What is your demon?
I have many. If it isn’t a lack of energy, it’s a lack of confidence, and if it isn’t a lack of confidence, it’s a lack of focus. I suspect at the base of them all is the real demon: a fear of change. To move is to risk the worst as well as the better.
What is the most important part of your education?
The continuation of it. I didn’t graduate from high school, but it wasn’t for lack of interest or intelligence. Now that I have overcome so much of what held me back, it’s time to pursue the journey again.
Which “thinker” has had the greatest influence on your life?
There was a time when I would have answered Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, or Marcus Aurelius, but I’m broadening my horizons and seeking new influence from thinkers like Simone de Beauvoir, James Baldwin, and bell hooks.
What do you doubt most?
The American Dream. It fails to take into account deep rifts of class, race, and sex and instead places personal responsibility on each citizen not only for their successes but their failures to meet nearly impossible expectations of wealth and health in the face of enormous institutional and systematic obsticals.
What is happiness?
Safety and space, both physical and temporal. So many of us are giving up precious life just to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. This is simply surviving. Being one misfortune away from losing everything isn’t safety, and without time to focus on our more abstract needs or space to make something of our own, we’re hardly better off than animals.
What does it mean to be human?
To be so aware and so affected by the cold indifference of the universe. We cannot live simply by our instincts. We cannot be content with simple survival and procreation. Instead, we must always be “making meaning” and working to “conquer mortality”. No other organism on this planet is burdened by such senseless wants or worries.
What illusion do you suffer from?
The illusion of time. I often can’t believe I am as old as I am, and I certainly can’t comprehend how little time I may have left. In my mind there is always time to do it tomorrow, later, someday. The reality is time is ticking down and there isn’t a second that has passed that I can get back.
If you could choose, what would you have for your last meal?
The same meal I choose every year for my birthday: crab legs, artichokes, and lemon butter dipping sauce that never runs out. I might add a few dozen oysters and a nice bottle of pinot grigio to wash it all down.
The question you’d most like to ask others?
What is a human life worth? It’s easy to trade lives half a world away for daily comforts here at home when you never have to see or think about it, but if you did, would you keep consuming, polluting, voting, or believing the way you do?
Your favourite word?
Melancholy: a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.
What is your motto?
“It is what it is, and it too shall pass.” Nothing that has passed can be changed and the present is an undeniable result, but that doesn’t mean you should ever feel stuck. Time is always moving forward and nothing ever stays the same. Not your circumstances, and certainly not you.
What is a good death?
There is no good death. There are better deaths, sure, but no matter how you loving or long, rich or influential a life you have lead, it will inevitably end someday and all that you will leave behind is sadness in your wake. Nothing good comes from death.
What is the meaning of life?
Each life has its own meaning, and the only life’s meaning I might know is my own, and even that is unclear. If I had to guess, I would say to open hearts to a truer meaning of love, and minds to a more complex understanding of the self and others.