For the final episode of her podcast’s first season, Kate Bowler sat down with veteran actor Alan Alda, the former star of M*A*S*H* and many films, who these days spends much of his time teaching communication.
Bowler, who teaches in Duke Divinity School, was curious what Alda has learned in his years teaching and speaking about communication. Why, she wondered, are we human beings so bad at talking about illness? And how can we do better?
Variants of this question animate Bowler’s podcast. Bowler, a young mother, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at age 35. Since then she has become keenly interested in how we talk about illness and other hardships. She’s interested in kinder, more compassionate conversation about life’s big challenges.\
Bowler’s approach – and her frank, warm, funny manner -- clearly resonates with many others.
Her memoir “Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) spent four weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. And her podcast, “Everything Happens with Kate Bowler,” which debuted on Feb. 6, has logged more than 233,000 downloads in that short time, putting it in the company of established public radio productions.
It’s been quite a journey so far, and Bowler isn’t finished. She plans to return with Season 2 of “Everything Happens” after a bit of a break.
Meanwhile, her inbox overflows with letters of gratitude, such as this recent note from a podcast listener:
“Your podcast and story speak to me. And I know I’m not alone. Thank you for your authenticity, advocacy, light and laughing at the world’s absurdity.”
For Bowler, such messages confirm what she hoped was true: Many people are hungry for authentic, compassionate conversation.
“Human beings are generally pretty terrible at talking about life’s worst moments,” Bowler said. “But many of us really do want to find a better way.”