From The Archives – The Proust Questionnaire
I believe I first answered these thirty-five questions around 2005. I recently pulled the questionnaire from my archives to review and to once again share. Any parts added or changed from my original answers will be in bold text. However, true to my nature, there were some additions but no changes.
Since July 1993, the back page of Vanity Fair has been devoted to The Proust Questionnaire, in which a noteworthy person answers a series of personal questions. (I have not seen a Vanity Fair magazine in years so I do not know if this practice continues today.) The questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust (1871–1922), the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.
I offer my answers to The Proust Questionnaire.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Each moment I am alive, I just may not always be aware of it.
2. What is your greatest fear?
To be falsely accused.
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I do not deplore any quality, characteristic or part of myself.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I don’t deplore another’s traits. I accept and attempt to learn from them.
5. Which living person do you most admire?
Everyone I encounter, it takes an enormous amount of courage to chose to be alive.
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
This life is my only extravagance.
7. What is your current state of mind?
I am home, the most peaceful state I know.
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
With the exception of gratitude, all virtues are overrated.
9. On what occasion do you lie?
On fewer occasions than I once did. When I am unable to accept the truth in myself, not because of its consequences.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Only that I still give it attention.
11. Which living person do you most despise?
Those who have the power and opportunity to improve life for all humanity, to end wars and famine but choose to do nothing. Donald Trump choosing to fiddle while Democracy was burning from the fire he started.
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
A connection with his anima.
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A very strong connection with her anima.
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I don’t know that I overuse them but the words and phrases I use the most are “Thank you” and “I love you.”
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The “what” would be this life. The “who” would be everyone I have ever loved from whom I learned more about love than I knew.
16. When and where were you happiest?
Yesterday, today, here, now, in a lover’s arms, and the day is not over.
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
Just being me. I have gotten pretty good at it.
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being here, alive. After two heart attacks, it is a joy to wake up each morning.
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
This is it. I won’t be back as either a person or a thing. I believe this more now.
21. Where would you most like to live?
Wherever I am, hopefully warm. Fiji was too warm. Toronto was too cold. California was too expensive. Loja is just right.
22. What is your most treasured possession?
My dreams. More so now. Still insightful but also more humorous.
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The loss of a loved one.
24. What is your favorite occupation?
Having no occupation. I love being free of the burden of employment. I have learned to live within my financial means. I have enough. I do not need to work for anything more.
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
Being true to myself. I asked my three closest friend to respond to this question about me when I first answered the questionnaire. All three responded with the same answer. I might say being true to myself is my religion.
26. What do you most value in your friends?
The truth, straight up.
27. Who are your favorite writers?
Henry Miller, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Marie Corelli, Rumi, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Robert Bly, Anäis Nin, whomever I am reading at the moment. Ursula K LeGuin, Genzaburō Yoshino, Elena Ferrante, Walter Mosley, Octavia Butler, myself.
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
I do not have heroes.
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
No one. Socrates. He did what he did because he thought it best for the world despite the consequences of his actions.
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
I still do not have heroes. Barack Obama came close but one has to be careful when placing anyone on a pedestal. It is not possible to stay there forever. Obama fell from this possibility when he drew a red line in the sand but did not defend it when Russia used chemical weapons in Syria. Thousands of innocent men, women and children died as a result of his inaction, a fact he has to live with for the rest of his life. “Do not give an ultimatum if your are not willing to carry through,” my mother told me as a child. Now look at what has happened in Crimea and the Ukraine. Putin has been given free reign and has no intension of stopping. The bully is not being challenged. Mistakes cannot be undone.
31. What are your favorite names?
Although I am a poet, I still prefer not to name things.
32. What is it that you most dislike?
Man’s inhumanity to himself and all life.
33. What is your greatest regret?
“I always thought I’d see her, one more time, again.” The only regret I have in this life is that I did not.
34. How would you like to die?
Totally aware, “joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”
35. What is your motto?
I Am Here! I Am Still Here!
Related Diary Entry
- What is your idea of perfect happiness?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
- What is the trait you most deplore in others?
- Which living person do you most admire?
- What is your greatest extravagance?
- What is your current state of mind?
- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
- On what occasion do you lie?
- What do you most dislike about your appearance?
- Which living person do you most despise?
- What is the quality you most like in a man?
- What is the quality you most like in a woman?
- Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
- What or who is the greatest love of your life?
- When and where were you happiest?
- Which talent would you most like to have?
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
- Where would you most like to live?
- What is your most treasured possession?
- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
- What is your favorite occupation?
- What is your most marked characteristic?
- What do you most value in your friends?
- Who are your favorite writers?
- Who is your hero of fiction?
- Which historical figure do you most identify with?
- Who are your heroes in real life?
- What are your favorite names?
- What is it that you most dislike?
- What is your greatest regret?
- How would you like to die?
- What is your motto?