Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Recently a local morning radio show interviewed Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin. The questions ranged from life in the band to his hobbies to his marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow. He handled the initial questions with the composure typical of rock star pedigree. As the questions became more personal, however, Chris interspersed his responses with patches of silence. The radio show hosts pleaded with him to talk more with passive-aggressive pleas. Silence to a radio anchor is like a BP oil spill to a marine biologist. The tension built as Chris tried to respond to questions about his wife only to sputter like a kite without wind. Finally Chris replied in his British accent, “I apologize guys. I’m just not very good at answering these kind of things.”
The anchors rushed to the rescue, “Oh you’re doing great. We think you’re doing just fine.”
One anchor threw another cast with more bait, “Can Gwyneth’s career be intimidating at times as it’s taking off?”
“I just….(silence)….I’m not sure….(silence)….I can’t do this anymore.” And rock star Chris hung up on live radio.
Even over the airwaves, I could see the anchors’ jaws hit the studio floor. I envisioned their disbelieving eyes staring blankly at each other, speechless and dumbfounded. I almost screamed. Their handling of Chris’ heart grated on me like nails on a chalkboard.
Immediately the anchors sought counsel from the resident therapist in the booth. She attempted to analyze Chris and his issues. I wished she had a mirror.
There was no attempt to care for Chris. No genuine interest in helping him make the decision that was best for him. I can’t speak for what the hosts felt, but I know what they wanted: Information. They attempted to know about him without knowing him. Like a jockey that pushes his horse past exhaustion for the sake of victory, they glorified the show over Chris’ needs. The anchors’ presence overwhelmed and suffocated his.
Our presence speaks. In the interest of learning to know one another, it would be wise to listen. The rhythm of our heart plays to the tune of two questions that drive every human interaction. If handled well, the answers become a compass and map for any communication between two or more people, whether it is a radio interview, a teacher and student, or a fifty-year marriage.
I know that I live in a fairy tale world, but I wonder how different the result could have been had the anchors answered these questions for themselves as they conversed with Chris Martin. Though the show likely would not have produced the inside scoop on a celebrity’s life, I would surmise that all ten of us listening at 5:30 AM would have started our own day asking those questions for ourselves.