Mrs. Spit was interviewed on her blog a few days ago by one of her readers. She offered to return the favor to any volunteers and I foolishly put my hand up. She complained that her questions were hard? Look at what she gave me:
1. We all have a thing, that when we look back on our life, we wish we had done it differently, handled the situation with more finesse, made another choice, thought about more options. What's yours?2. If you could be any age, with the wisdom and experience you have now, what age would you pick?3. You speak about the need for solitude, how solitude recharges you. In what ways do you think the world might change, if we all had more solitude?3. Coffee, Rain and Yellow or Tea, Sunshine and Green? Why? (pick the answer that most appeals)4. If you could only teach your son's one life lesson, what would that lesson be?5. You have been on a voyage of self- discovery. I suspect you have always been on this voyage, but have become, perhaps more intentional about it, in the last while. What one thing have you discovered about you, that totally took you by surprise?
Anyone want to answer my questions for me?
I've got a handicap and I should have remembered this before I put up my hand: I have a fickle memory. All kinds of memories come unbidden at odd times. But ask Memory a direct question and expect it to deliver and it goes all shy and coy. A practical example: No matter how many times I've heard of a particular movie and know that I want to see it, no matter how many times I've thought of it and resolved to get it, put me inside a Blockbuster Video and my mind goes blank. I'm left with an impression of the experience I want to have, but it's so faint it's more a torment than any use. Once I've left and gone home with an anemic second choice Memory awakens and supplies me with the missing name. So, question #1? Now I have those experiences so often (complete with the inner cringing and hopelessly wishing I could have a do-over) you'd think there wouldn't be any trouble pulling one out of the air. I'm not doing a GW Bush here (i.e. not being able to think of any mistakes he may have made because he felt he hadn't made any), it's just that in the forest of such incidents, no individual tree is highlighted. I'm sure I was thinking about one just the other day. ...Would it be the time I spanked my kid (yeah. I did it. Not one of my prouder moments.), a time I didn't advocate for myself adequately, something stupid I blurted out?
Shuffling through the card catalog of memories and trying to match one to the question has a side effect of re-living some of those tingly moments. (Thanks, Mrs. Spit) Here's a relatively benign one:
The preschool where my boys went in St. Louis is on the Washington University campus. This is part of an upscale municipality called Clayton. The school is in a neighborhood of graceful old trees and graceful old estates. My kids were attending school with some very wealthy children.
Every year, like most schools, this preschool has an auction to raise money. Each classroom does some kind of a craft which is part of the oral bidding. There is also silent bidding on some pretty cool stuff.
The year I went, my first (and so far last) fundraising auction ever, Scott was just an infant. We found some friends who were willing to watch him and Connor. Dress-up affairs were relatively rare for Gary and I so we approached this with a mixture of anticipation and intimidation. The venue for this gala was a preschool family's mansion in the Soulard neighborhood, sort of the old French Quarter in the heart of old (like 18th century) St. Louis. This grand house was on a square and one of the activities for the evening (besides eating, drinking, and bidding) was a carriage ride around it.
The good time was short-lived. When we called to check up on the kids we could hear Scott crying in the background. He'd slept for a while, but when he woke began to cry and hadn't stopped. Our friends weren't complaining and probably wouldn't have called us, but Gary decided he should go get them. He'd bring them back to pick me up. So much for the carriage ride.
The oral auction was just beginning when he returned. I was gathering my stuff to go when one of the mothers from Connor's classroom asked if I wanted to pool my resources with her and a few other families to buy the project our kids' classroom had made. I said sure. She asked what the maximum amount was I was willing to bid and I called back to her as I headed out the door, "Oh, five, ten dollars!"
It was the following week when the school newsletter revealed what some of the oral auction items sold for that I realized just how far in my mouth I'd stuck my foot. Connor's classroom project went for $600; another went for $1100. And I could see an image of myself walking out the door, calling over my shoulder, "Oh, five, ten dollars!" Oh. I get it now. Fund. Raiser.
And that's just the first question.
2. If you could be any age, with the wisdom and experience you have now, what age would you pick?
Only I can make this one complicated. I keep thinking that my earlier selves are part of the bedrock that "makes me what I am today", and so if I picked one of those ages, would that change who I am today? Or, if I'd had the experience et al that I have now, would I have even known some of these people? I was adapted to the environment I was in then, with my inexperience; part of the package was gaining experience. The friends I had during that time fit me in accordance with who I was then. There are probably some relationships and situations I wouldn't even have entered, had I had the benefit of the 'wisdom' I have now. And yet, those relationships and situations I blundered into yielded some really memorable and rich experiences. So when I picture myself, say in my late 20's or early 30's when I was at the height of my physical strength and endurance and adventurous spirit it seems obvious to me that this might be where I'd put my present self: a nice blend of physical prowess and mental maturity (blush). Except that some of the friendships I associated with then and gave the benefit of the doubt for too long I'd have much more easily left, and then who would I be now? It occurs to me that the place that could benefit the most from who I've become--is early childhood! To have the perspective then that I have now would certainly have eliminated a lot of confusion that I've spent years unconfusing. It would have saved me a lot of heartache. In fact, now it takes me on a fantasy of what my life would have been like, the path of development I'd have taken, had I been able to approach it with my eyes clear and my spirit unfettered.
3. You speak about the need for solitude, how solitude recharges you. In what ways do you think the world might change, if we all had more solitude?
You know, I don't think solitude is for everyone. I think there are probably more people who seek to avoid being alone than seek their own counsel. Perhaps if we all had more solitude, it there would be more Big Ideas--at least there would be the stillness to allow them to emerge. Does blogging count as solitude? I'm not sure, since I'm partly talking to myself, but also partly talking to others out there. I would assume that other bloggers are also in that odd in-between: alone, yet in almost telepathic conversation. I've certainly received a lot of enriching inspiration and insight from the thoughts of solitary others I would never have had a chance to meet. I've had a utopian idea that in this the internet is a force for Good. Yet, there is the shadow too, of pornography and conspiracy and the seeds of destructiveness. To return to the question, my guess is that the world wouldn't change much because most people would see solitude as a hole to fill, rather than a gift to use.
3. Coffee, Rain and Yellow or Tea, Sunshine and Green? Why? (pick the answer that most appeals)
"They call me mellow yellow..." What have you been smoking, Mrs. Spit?
And can't it be Coffee, Rain and Green? Or Coffee, Sunshine and Green? When I engage my conscious mind coffee, rain, yellow appeals because I actually like contemplative rainy days, and yellow makes me think of light. And I prefer coffee to tea. Yet there is something Japanese-gardenish about TSG--hey! I just saw the acronym for CoffeeRainYellow! Is this a trick question? ???
4. If you could only teach your son's one life lesson, what would that lesson be?
I think it would have to be to trust themselves, and to grow a Self they can trust. My guess is that this is the root of all of their subsequent relationships, their ability to make good choices, the core of their self-worth and inner strength. It's their base from where they can establish nourishing relationships and keep healthy boundaries. And their base from where they can differentiate from their father and me and become fully their own people. As a corollary I'd like to guide them toward inhabiting that Self, and awareness that they are doing so.
5. You have been on a voyage of self- discovery. I suspect you have always been on this voyage, but have become, perhaps more intentional about it, in the last while. What one thing have you discovered about you, that totally took you by surprise?
One surprise is how long I've been willing to stick to a lost cause. The other is how suspicious I was of my own motives and intentions (yeah, yeah, you said "one" thing, but they may be somewhat complementary.). I'm surprised at how readily I attributed the worst to myself.
Thanks for the mental stretch, Mrs. Spit. My brain is sore and I anticipate a fog for a few days. Coffee, rain, yellow indeed. I'm going to cruise around to some of your other volunteers, and if you've soft-balled their questions....I'll...I'll...sputter helplessly
As I followed up on my threat to go visit the other interviews, I realized the effort Mrs. Spit had gone to in finding just the right customized questions for all of her comers. It seems there are many who want to be interviewed by Mrs. Spit. And, I realized that the flip side to my complaints that the questions were hard is how hard she had to have thought to come up with them.
Thank you, Mrs. Spit, and this time there's nothing flip in that.