I first met Duncan Trussell at a Ram Dass retreat on Maui.
He was right next to me at the first yoga class on the first day. The teacher asked us to turn to the person next to us and introduce ourselves and share something. I had been on this particular retreat several years in row, and I knew enough about myself to know that it took awhile for me to ease into opening my heart and mind and connect with others, so I inwardly groaned at her request….but I knew I had to do it.
So I reluctantly turned to my left and locked eyes with this stranger, a slight man, with a messy beard, a mop of hipster hair, and piercing, warm eyes.
But as he introduced himself with a friendly, “Hi, I’m Duncan,” a jolt went through my body. That voice! Raspy, twangy, like a wind instrument with a broken reed, I recognized that voice from literally hours of podcasts that I had been pouring through in the month previous to the retreat.
I found myself face to face with the Duncan Trussell! He has a podcast, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. He interviews all sorts of comedians and other kooky types, and it’s sometimes explict, gross, and littered with drug talk and rambling rants that I don’t usually identify with(in fact, sometimes I just fast forward through) But in the past year his podcasts had taken a decided turn, more towards his personal spiritual quest that was developing inside himself with increasing pressure from his inner and outer world.
Which is why folks in my neighborhood might have started thinking that the woman walking her dogs every morning was starting to lose it – sometimes listening to Duncan’s podcasts as I walk I would laugh so hard that I would have to come to a sudden stop and bend over, gasping for air. Other times, I would weep openly, wiping my eyes and nose repeatedly on my sleeves and pausing to hug my dogs for reassurance.
In the past year, Duncan interviewed his mother twice on his podcast, before she finally died of the cancer she had been living with for four years. In the last interview, she was so close to passing, I found myself literally aligning with her labored breathing as they talked about spirituality, life, death and what it all meant. And if that’s not enough for one guy to handle in a year, Duncan had his own bout with testicular cancer in the middle of it. That’s so much heavy stuff for anybody , but Duncan did it head on, and put it all out there for others to listen and learn from. I had been so touched and inspired by his willingness to wrench himself open, muck around in his own pain and confusion, humbly searching for truth and comfort in the wreckage – and on top of that – be brave enough to share that openly with others? Nothing short of heroic, In my eyes.
So, what do you do when you finally meet someone who has affected you so deeply? Well, as I was standing there looking at him incredulously, what I did was push him on the chest with both hands, and exclaim “Shut UP!” I know. Classy. But he took in in stride. He was gracious and kind, and we ended up sharing our hearts in conversation frequently over the course of the rest of the retreat.
In the weeks after the retreat, Duncan has talked on his podcast about the retreat, and how it affected his life and his continued quest. Not only could I identify deeply with his experience, but I was thrilled to be able to hear someone else put it into words. Duncan never fails to be excrutiatingly honest about his thoughts and feelings, and is always able to come back to a place of wonder and love. That is so courageous to me, to consistently be that open and honest in a world that slides too easily into separateness and cyncism.
And that’s why I love Duncan Trussell. He’s a courageous hero.
Check out his podcasts.
I think you will love him, too.