Anyone Can Change a Life

Sometimes people drop into your life to help you

Oh boy, another blog post inspired by the monologue ramblings of one Marc Maron in his podcast.


I’ve been listening to this podcast for years, but for some reason, it’s been resonating with me in new ways recently. Maybe that’s an example of what I’m about to discuss. Perhaps it’s an example of how we tend to pick out the messages we need from something we read or hear. We somehow tune in differently, whether it’s a song lyric that we suddenly feel connected to after several listens, a book that we’ve read once or more than once, or a podcast.The part of this article that I’m grappling with most is the title. What you see above is perhaps my fourth attempt in that space, but I decided that it wasn’t worth too much time or energy.

Maron’s monologue before his interview with Aaron Sorkin stuck to and with me. Like previous podcast monologues in the last four weeks, I transcribed a part of this one. Like other interviews, some part of me connected with what the guest said.

In talking about luck and timing

He talks about having bad luck. He’s self-deprecating. However, then he states,

I think the only luck that I really had, to be honest with you, was the timing of this podcast.

But what is “luck”? According to Google, “luck” is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” But what is “chance”? According to, “chance” is “the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: so “luck is a randomly” caused success or failure.

We all have “luck”

We all have “luck” of some sort. Sometimes it’s not so much luck as our own doing, without us realizing it. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our thoughts and actions are creating our situation. Sometimes the timing in the world is just right.

Some would say that everything happens when it’s meant to.

…when you think about people have helped you along during the way, why would they do that? It’s weird that most of the time the things that change your life are just people that choose to show up for you somehow, or to give you time, to give you attention, to give you some sort of lesson, but they don’t have to do that.

(Emphasis mine.) I love this statement. “People who choose to show up for you…give you time… attention… lesson… they don’t have to.”

Just showing up is a significant act.

Time is a precious resource. The decision to give someone time, and the action of it, can be significant to another human being. The lesson need not be direct as in, “I’m going to teach you something”. The teaching doesn’t need to be in the form of a tutorial. The lesson can be an experience that you learn from.

Everyone you meet is a potential teacher.

Sometimes people feel compelled to help others. Maybe they have a specific reason for wanting to help — e.g. they identify with the person they’re helping, empathy — other times, they might not know why they feel guided to help. Maybe that’s an example of chance as well.

About “bookstore owner Gus”:

I don’t know why he chose to talk to me, but he did and it changed my life.

This hits me in the heart. Choosing to start a conversation can change a life. I mean, really.

If you really look at these moments in your life…the fortuitous moments are usually relationships, they’re meetings. They’re people that change your life and they don’t have to but sometimes they do. Yeah, you should have gratitude for that.

Get out there.

These are reasons to get out there and meet people. As I’ve been saying for years regarding networking events: You never know if you’ll meet your new best friend, your next business partner or the love of your life. I wrote that in a blog post in 2013 and I’d been saying it verbally and in written pieces for several years prior.

Be grateful.

Also, gratitude is so important. Appreciate those people and be aware of their impact.

…you can do all the work, you can put all the work in and it might not manifest, man, because you need someone to go “Let me help you out.” “Let me give you a leg up”. Or, you need that weird bit of timing where you just sort of like if you got in the pocket.

Sometimes you need that nudge or that bit of help. Sometimes you need some information or a connection from someone.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Never be afraid to ask for help. If you’re in the position to help someone else, do it. There are exceptions to this, and you don’t need to help everyone. There are people who will take advantage and who will suck the energy out of you. Only help people if it feels right. You’ll know when it does.

Help for the sake of helping

One of my favourite quotes is one that I read on the side of a box of tea when I worked at a chain coffee shop when I was 19, 23 years ago:

To love for the sake of being loved is human, to love for the sake of loving is angelic.

To me, this is a distinction between ego and love. We’re all human and we all have the capacity to be angelic in this way.

Don’t help for the glory. Don’t help people because you believe that it’s good for your reputation (think inauthentic “corporate responsibility”). Don’t help someone you don’t want to help because you feel the need to be a martyr or to get Good Place points. (If you watch The Good Place, you know how that goes. If you don’t currently watch it, start as soon as you’re done reading this.)

Help because you have something to contribute. Help because you see someone in need.

Of course, there are other many other reasons to take an action that might change someone’s life, but I’ll leave those up to you consider.

“Cosmic timing.”

And then we come close to Maron’s conclusion. Although I edited a bunch out, a lot of this was in the context of getting his podcast made. He began podcasting at a time when podcasts had been around for a while, but there weren’t many of them. “The best luck we ever had was we put this podcast up when the landscape was pretty sparse. It was still sort of the wild frontier.”, he said.

Maron carved out a niche. The timing was right in the podcast space. The timing was right.

The Venn diagram of idea and timing worked out and numerous elements collided to make it the ideal communication platform for him. Furthermore,

The cosmic timing of my incredible bottoming out financially and emotionally just happened to coincide with amazing opportunity of getting this thing [blog] out there. That was fortuitous. but, there’s also those relationships… lot of times those are work relationships. A lot of times you have belief in each other and you know, you want to work together, but sometimes there’s just some people that drop into your life.

Like, you know.

It’s funny — Maron stutters and changes direction often enough that I don’t know if the above is meant as, “You know you want to work together” or “you know, you want to work together”, with the “you know” in the second version being a filler phrase. I say this as an observation related to interpretation, rather than as a judgment. But yeah, people drop into your life. It might sound too spiritual for your taste (or not), but I’ve long believed that people come into ourselves for a reason, at the right time.

There’s even a song in Wicked about it, called For Good.

They don’t have to help you. They don’t know that they’re helping you and they changed the entire fucking direction of it. thank those people if you know who they are and you still can.


All of that was relevant to Maron’s previously recorded interview with Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin talked about various people who influenced him, including the late writer William Goldman, who wrote the original screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men”. He also wrote The Princess Bride — both the novel and the screenplay. Upon reading the novel, it surprised me to discover that the film had almost exactly replicated it, complete with the sick boy played in the movie by Fred Savage.


One of my favourite movies.

Of one example of Goldman’s help, Sorkin and Maron had this exchange:

AS: “If that’s all that he would have done…”
MM: “That would have been enough”.
AS, in the Jewiest moment of the interview: “What do we say? Dayenu. It would have been sufficient.” (Those are video links. Read more on Wikipedia.)

Who’s touched your life?

Thank those people and be those people. Pay it forward. If you have something to give, give it. And if you don’t think you have something to give, you probably do.

You can have a profound impact on someone else, whether you’re aware of that impact or not.

You too can change a life.