Dear Nerdist: An Open Letter of Thanks

An open letter to Chris Hardwick, founder of The Nerdist and host of The Nerdist Podcast (and @midnight and The Talking Dead and who knows what else because he’s doing so much as he follows his bliss):

Dear Chris,

I want to thank you for the impact The Nerdist Podcast has made on me.

Like many GenXers, I have done several things professionally – retail, teaching, singing, acting and directing, arts management, editing and publishing – always feeling that there was something more I could do, and definitely feeling rather like Salieri in Amadeus, second best, never getting the breaks. Thus it was something of a surprise when I realized I was called to ministry and am now in the first few years of my career as a Unitarian Universalist minister. When I first discerned the call to ministry, I was very clear that I didn’t want to be a congregational minister – I was clear that my call had something to do with the arts. But Salieri syndrome kicked in again, because I am not a great actor, or an instrumentalist, or a composer or playwright – and because others in my denomination are more creative and out there doing amazing things.

I tell you this because about a year ago, having resigned myself to congregational ministry, I started listening to the podcast. Sure, some of them are simply hysterical, and I am so grateful for that – I listened to your first podcast with Wil Wheaton about a week after the election and it was the first time I had laughed since that horrible day, so much so I had to pull off on the side of the road because tears were streaming down my face.

But alongside the humor, especially in the podcasts from the last year or two, you have engaged in incredibly thoughtful conversations with incredibly bright and thoughtful people about creativity, inspiration, temperament, process, and the philosophy of art. Episode after episode, you are tapping into a deep truth about our impulse as humans to create and express ourselves, and the ways in which those impulses define our attitudes and character.

Those conversations have mattered – on a larger scale, of course, but also to me personally. Your call to us to find that thing and do it has helped me realize that I don’t have to be Mozart to be effective, and useful, and needed. Your call to us to find that thing and do it has helped me see that my call to ministry isn’t about being the best artist but rather to inspire others to create, to do, to use the arts to find truth, to understand the world, to connect with others, to let our spirits play. And goodness knows we need it – more than ever, when the political and social landscape seeks to crush us, we need to create art and be inspired by art in order to survive.

And so I thank you – for helping me discern my need to leave the congregation and work as a “freelance” minister working with communities to inspire and enrich their lives with art – for continuing this vital conversation about creativity – and for making us laugh so hard I can’t drive.

Thank you.

Enjoy your burrito…

Image by Jimiyo at Deviant Art – free for use under Creative Commons License

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