Isn’t it hard to pen and ask yourself questions that could possibly cause you look like a pompous ass?
Yes, very hard. It is incredibly easy to be seen either way, and this only adds another layer of complexity to the equation. Freud would have a field day with this, wouldn’t he?
Ok, then start with something basic. Do you own anything that is unique and special to you?
My father had a small carved wooden box that he used to keep on his dresser. As a young boy, I would often climb up on the dresser to look inside. It was his special box. He kept personal keepsakes in it. His high school ring. A ticket to a dance event where the Tommy Dorsey Band played. There was also an aged and dried up boutonniere in there. When he passed away, I kept that box and it is now on my dresser. I keep my special things in it. That little box is one of the most precious things I possess.
Let’s go to the Proust Questionnaire. Where and when were you the happiest?
Tough to say. “Now” is the obvious answer, but the past is full of wonderful memories. The day I married my wife, the birth of my children, standing outside my tent atop a mountain at 18,000 feet in a snowstorm. The psychedelic trip of July, 1968 was a particularly happy moment.
How about this one. What do you consider you greatest achievement?
Survival. Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception. If we could take this achievement to its highest level as a species, it would be mankind’s greatest contribution to the truth of existence. One must be able to look beyond today and into the future with hope and a knowledge of our own individual responsibility to the outcomes that await. It’s factoring deferred gratification on a geometric scale.
Where do you get the inspiration for your writing?
I have to write. For me, that’s the most important element of any inspiration. The hard work of doing it every day. If I didn’t write poetry, I think that I would dissolve, and that is a lot of motivation right there. The inspiration for the content, however, comes from my notebooks. I keep two of them. One in my briefcase and one next to my bed. I write down anything that comes into my consciousness or observe. Anything. A word. A thought. An observation. A phrase. The subconscious is a great library waiting to be tapped, so anything that comes to mind, as subjective and silly as it might appear, contains the seed of something unique, something waiting to be explored. You know the saying. Inspiration is 90% perspiration. And then there’s the other part. The craving to put it all down in a way that adds an element of completion to life. James Baldwin said, “all art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story, to vomit the anguish up.” That’s also a major inspiration. One always feels better after vomiting.
Do you have any regrets? (Does this come under the category of more than I need to know)?
I have a deeply seeded need to admit my sins. And it continues to amaze me that this desire has not translated itself into my becoming a Catholic. It is surprising to me that I remain an atheist when there exists is a tool for daily absolution that can be completed easily with some magic words. I know that I probably should not be admitting this, but yes, I have regrets every day. I’ve certainly hurt people whom I love, and suspect that to one degree or another, that is part of the human condition, part of the human frailty that exists because it’s so difficult to see the world in any way other than through our own eyes, through the filter of our own feelings. Leonard Cohen put it best in his poem, “Song of Bernadette”: “So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine, torn by what we’ve done and can’t undo….”