Linda Stamper Boyne: Conan shows the way |

Linda Stamper Boyne: Conan shows the way

Linda Stamper Boyne
Vail, CO, Colorado

Last week, I found inspiration from the strangest source: a late night talk show.

Whether you watch them or not, you probably heard something about the late night fracas at NBC amongst the news of the disaster in Haiti and the Democrats losing their super majority in the U.S S.enate in the wake of President Obama’s declining approval rating.

In a nutshell, in case you were otherwise occupied, Conan O’Brien stepped down as host of the “Tonight Show” rather than being bumped to a later time slot to make room for the “Jay Leno Show,” a move O’Brien felt would “seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.”

Earth-shattering news? No. But it made for some fascinating viewing as everyone who has a platform to speak from weighed in on the Jay-Conan-NBC battle.

I have long been a big fan of talk shows. I grew up watching the Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore, long before Rosie and Oprah and Ellen ruled the airwaves.

A few years later, I discovered “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, forever the king of late night. I remember watching his show on a little black-and-white TV I had hidden in my closet, staying up way past my bedtime, laughing at innuendo and things I probably didn’t fully get but knew were hilarious.

So the whole host shifting and changing complexion of the talk show scene is intriguing to me. And while this battle got kind of ugly, when it came to an end, Conan displayed his true character, and that’s what struck such a chord with me.

Conan took a stand for what he believed in, that moving a television institution from a time slot it has held for 60 years, essentially turning “The Tonight Show” into “The Tomorrow Show,” would destroy it.

He could have been angry and spiteful at how it all ended. But in the final days, he showed integrity and expressed respect and gratitude to the network he had worked with for 20 years — most of his adult life.

His final words to the viewers were sincere and heartfelt and I think spoke volumes about who he is: “All I ask of you is one thing: Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Conan played out in a very public forum a version of what happens to all of us at some point in our lives. In spite of planning and best intentions, life doesn’t unfold how we expect it to. But what counts is how we handle the situations that arise.

I don’t think there has ever been a year I’ve been happier to put behind me to than 2009. Holy cow! What a giant load of crapola that was!

Right at the end of ’08 I took the jar that was my rather stable life, shook it up, took off the lid and turned it upside-down. I’ve spent the last 13 months trying to figure out how the pieces fit in the jar again. Or if they fit in the jar. Or if I need a new jar. Well, I think I’ve worked that metaphor enough. You get the idea.

Basically, through a series of events, I grew up this past year, which is a strange thing for a woman of my age to say. I got divorced. I got a job and became a working mom for the first time. I got troubling news about my dad’s health. I dealt with some difficult kid issues. And at one point I got really sick so I felt weak, feeble and defeated.

In the midst of trying to hold it all together, my two closest friends, my go-tos, my supports, moved away. Many a time I had that feeling of, “If one more big thing happens right now my head is going to explode.”

So, not really the year I would have planned for myself. But that’s just life and honestly, 2010 is already looking up! There’s no room for cynicism or regret or anger, all of which waste energy and emotion.

I plan to work hard, be kind and, as Conan believes, expect amazing things to happen.

Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through

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