Heather McElhatton: Kevin Kling is an award-winning playwright and storyteller, residing in Minneapolis Minnesota. He was born with a congenital birth defect, his left arm is deformed, it has no wrist or thumb. His right arm was normal, but was completely torn off his body on August 11 2001, when he was in a near-fatal motorcycle Accident.
Kevin Kling: A car turned in front of me and I just turned right into him. I didn’t even have time to hit the brakes.
HM: Kling sustained life threatening injuries, and witnesses assumed the worst.
KK: There was a guy that saw it, who thought I died, and he still thinks I’m dead. He thinks I’m a ghost. I see him on the bus and he won’t even talk to me, he looks through me and he thinks I’m sent to haunt Minneapolis. He’s not wrong entirely. Once you cross over, you can’t completely pull a foot back out. Talk to anybody who’s had a near death experience, you can’t completely extricate yourself from that other world – there’s something you know now that doesn’t allow you to return fully.
HM: Kling’s arm was reattached, but never regained motor function. He says now when he performs at grade schools, he has to start off by talking about his arms.
KK: On my left arm I have four fingers and no thumb, so I tell the kids after the show “If you wanna high-five, you’re outta luck, but we can high-four all day.”
So this little girl comes up and says, “No, High-TWO!” because she has two fingers on one hand.
HM: Part of Kling’s healing process meant also dealing with post-traumatic stress.
KK: I’d have days with anger issues and sleeping problems, then a therapist had me walk through my accident, but this time I missed the car with my motorcycle. I slept better that night, and my anger issues dissipated. Somehow she rewired my myth.
HM: Kling says he’s made a lot of progress, but still struggles with the realities of his accident
KK: My inner and outer landscape are at odds. There’s a paradox there. Art and stories and music connect those two landscapes. All I have to do is have them talk to each other. I don’t have to have them agree. Hitting a fast ball and paradox are the two things people are good at, like hitting a fast ball…what animal can hit a fast ball? It’s one of the most amazing things and then paradox this ability to hold two opposing thoughts at the same time – its really an amazing thing. We need paradox and we use it – its the way we figure things out.
HM: Performance, art and music continue to help kling heal.
KK: Pythagoras had the music of the spheres, that everything had music. and what you were trying to do is get your self, your body, your spirit in harmony with the world. So it was all about music and healing in Greece at Epidaris and different place would actually heal through music. Music and light, they are both particle and wave, they’re these anomalies that really do connect the world thru physics thru chemistry thru emotion – so they’re wonderful vehicles.
HM: Kling says when you’re born with loss, you grow from it. When you experience loss later in life – you grow towards it.
KK: I do think we live in a beautiful world and grace is part of it. Grace people expect to be in touch with the divine – but I think its finding the divine in the every day. So I think its here. Its like Pythagoras said about the music of the spheres, we haven’t lost the ability to hear it, we’ve lost the ability to recognize it.
HM: . You can learn more about kevin kling and his work on our website www.abeautiful.world. I’m Heather McElhatton and this is A Beautiful World.