This episode is inspired by a letter that was written by my great grandmother to her son, my grandfather, in 1941. These would be the last letters that she would ever write or he would ever receive from her. I am exploring this material in Stockholm, trying to take something from these artifacts of a lost time to understand memory, pain, loss, failure, and absence. 

In thinking about the podcast, which is called The Dignity of Suffering, there’s an interesting translation of this material to offer it a kind of renewed dignity. They are dignified on their own, of course, and they don’t need anything more but something about giving them music and life seems to connect something that couldn’t be materialized in the world as we know it. 

I’m here with some wonderful friends from around the world. Joining me are Aviva Chernick from Toronto, Masha Dimitri from Switzerland, Cesar Lerner from Buenos Aires, and Marcelo Moguilevsky who is also from Buenos Aires. 

For today’s podcast, we’re just going to talk together, with their beautiful music in the background, about what it means to live in the spaces in between what we think we know and the eruption of what we do not know. Just before we hit record, Marcelo offered that he never knows when the emotion is going to come but it always comes. There’s always that tug of war in life. One of my teachers says that “Desire is pleasure remembered.” We’re always trying to invoke moments in our life where we feel some kind of connectedness. And yet, of course, we can’t force these moments. 

Certainly, our workshop, for me at least, has been an exercise in purpose and then destroying that purpose over and over again. On that note, we’re just going to talk a bit about what it means to fail. We’re asking questions like, how do we survive each other’s despair? How can we survive together this edge of oblivion, this nothingness that we are always walking every day of our life? I hope you enjoy the conversation and the music.

Show Highlights:

  • Why letting go is one of the most terrifying and pleasurable parts of living.
  • Why we need guilt and shame.
  • The power of embodied teaching.
  • How moments write themselves over and over again through the years.
  • Why we all need to learn to come out of time.
  • Why failure shouldn’t be judged but can be beautiful.
  • How living in Sweden during this pandemic has been isolating in and of itself.

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Mitchell Smolkin is a sought-after clinician, speaker, and author. For media and interview requests please contact his publicist Randy Phipps at For all other inquiries, please send mail to


Episode Credits

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He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, coaches, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world.

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