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Sam's Thoughts: “The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness"

What a pleasure it was the other day to speak with storyteller Joel Ben Izzy in preparation for an episode of Hanukkah stories. We spoke some about his book, “The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness.” In the book, and in our conversation, he explores the journey occasioned by the sudden loss of his voice – a loss brought on by the vicissitudes of thyroid cancer. We talked about the particular challenge of losing one’s voice when one is a storyteller. And about the blessings that ride in on the back of something that is at first, perceived to be a curse. 

On and on we talked – about the importance of perceiving one’s life as a story that continues to unfold and unfold. We talked about formulas for wisdom and formulas for luck. It was a lovely, lively conversation.  And as it unfolded, I couldn’t help but juxtapose the story of the loss of his voice – a loss once pronounced to be permanent – with the clear, strong, sonorous voice that was telling the story.

The interview took place two days before Thanksgiving. And with a heart already inclined by the season toward looking for things to be thankful for, I found myself exulting in the mechanics of the sort of grace that would give Joel Ben Izzy the gifts of perspective that came with the loss of his voice, and then would give him his voice back. That juxtaposition made me feel like I live in a universe that is happily, inordinately bounteous. It was a Thanksgiving blessing for me.

If you’re interested in Joel’s book (“The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness”) you can find it on Amazon and on Audible (though in our interview Joel characteristically recommended that interested readers might look first in the library), and, of course, you can find it on Joel’s own website,

From the desk of Sam Payne, host of The Apple Seed on BYU Radio.

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