When I wake up, I never know what the world is going to offer up to me. I might laugh I might cry. I might feel emboldened and ready for the day, or ready to retreat to my warm, weighted blanket and hide in a nest of my own making.

This morning was a gut punch.

I ran an errand before work and when I parked in my driveway. I opened Tiktok because of how it feels. As I scrolled through a few things, I landed upon this one.

Now, I’ve seen this question posed before and I love the call-and-response style Tiktok allows for. You never know what the response is going to be. This morning, it was real and it was serious.

Julian Sarafian dropped in to lay down his experience with Harvard Law School and getting out into the world and Making It™. He had the job. The money. The prestige.

But he didn’t have his mental health. He didn’t have a life he enjoyed living. And if you don’t have that, how can you have anything else?

The knockout blow I saw coming. Ear Hustle is a phenomenal show. Ear Hustle is “The daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration.”

The show started in 2017 and came to prominance when they Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor won the Radiotopia Podquest. At the time Earlonne was still incarcerated and Nigel would go to California’s San Quentin State Prison to see him and others.

The prison has a media lab and has some progressive policies to rehabilitation. The episode I started today was about people imprisoned abroad.

Going to prison in your home country can be disorienting enough. What about when you’re new to the culture, don’t speak the language, and are thousands of miles from family and friends? Three Americans describe their experiences of incarceration in Japan, Thailand, and Iran.

Episode 65: Counting Lines — Ear Hustle

Getting to the part in the show about reading the transcripts is what got me. The reach of this show and the good it’s doing in the world is immeasurable. Giving a voice and hope to people locked away in boxes for next to nothing…

The show continues to impress me. Coming from both outside and inside the prison (when COVID allows) it provides a well-rounded picture of experiences from people of all walks of life. When we found it, my wife and I listened to the entire first season on a road trip.

The music episodes are always a treat.