Monday, May 07, 2007

Some Thought-provoking Questions

Pauline recently offered anyone who wanted a chance to answer 5 customized questions. Here are my Q&A’s.

(1) How do you work through feelings about events that disturb you?

Events that disturb me fall into 2 groups – those that affect me and those that only involve others. As for events that affect me, my typical response is to breathe, think for a while, and consider my options, with doing nothing always being one of them. I have seen too many people get burned by firing back hasty angry e-mail responses. I will typically look for a solution that involves compromise (if there is a disagreement) or mediation if there is the chance that an uninvolved third party could help. There are times when there is no recourse other than acceptance, like the work situation that eventually forced my decision to retire.

Every time I read the newspaper I am disturbed by events totally out of my control that affect people often halfway around the world. Just yesterday there was the NYT story about tainted medicine that stretches from China to Panama and has sickened and killed untold numbers of people. I’m disturbed at the situation in Darfur that never seems to get any better. I’m disturbed that there are children who are slave laborers instead of students. I’m disturbed that the environment continues to suffer. There is no working through of these kinds of feelings, which simply serve as a reminder that all is not right with the world.

(2) If you could choose just one charity worldwide to donate money to, which one would you choose and why?

Since there has been so much news of corrupt use of funds in organization like the United Way and even the Red Cross, I tend to give my money directly to those who will benefit from it. I would love to think there was an organization that embraced the same principles I value and would spend my money wisely without allowing those at the top of the organization to profit. Probably the last such organization to which I contributed money was that the Jane Goodall Institute, to support her work to save the endangered chimpanzees of Africa.

I have given of my time and my money to support families living near where I used to work as they struggle to survive. Most of them are single-parent families that have many mouths to feed. I always tried to find families where there was a will to improved their situation in life. I made sure we developed an ongoing relationship, instead of dropping off a Thanksgiving basket never to return again. There were disappointments along the way. But there were also successes. One family was able to volunteer to help me the next year. That made it all worthwhile.

(3) What one place in the world would you most like to live and why?

My first reaction was to say “where I live right now.” I love my location. I love my house. I love the fact that I am near a beautiful city where most of the museums and many concerts are free. Every time I fly back to DC, but especially after a trip to the parched southwest, I embrace the greenness that welcomes me home. I have no intention of leaving.

On the other hand, I really do love Paris. There is something magical about this city which worships food and beauty more than perhaps any other. At any time of the day or night it offers scenes that make your heart feel love for the place and for anyone who is around you. I certainly wouldn’t mind living in Paris if given the opportunity!

(4) How does the faith you were brought up with instruct your daily life?

I am actually quite distanced from the faith I was brought up with. I grew up as a Presbyterian. I memorized the catechism at an early age. I joined the church at the age of 8. I read the Bible seriously. But I never could wrap my brain around predestination. I also had trouble with the unquestioning acceptance of all that was in the Bible, as my mother thought we should embrace it.

What I carried forward from the religion of my childhood was a treasure trove of sacred music. It didn’t take an acceptance of the Trinity to find peace and beauty in the works of so many great Christian composers. I still know all the old hymns and Christmas carols. I can easily go both ways when it comes to music.

(5) If you were a book, what genre would you be and why do you think so?

My first reaction is that I would want to be a page turner. Therefore, I would be a mystery. As a child I thrilled to the Nancy Drew books, reading every book from that series in the library one summer. I have always enjoyed a good who-done-it story.

But then I would also like an element of romanticism within my pages. I want the drama of a classic like Wuthering Heights or The Secret Garden or any number of love stories. I want some element that pushes human emotion to its limit, but there must also be a happy ending. I don’t want to be a tragedy – no Romeo and Juliet.

(Bonus) What is your favorite way to relax?

I’m actually not very good at relaxing. But I have learned some things from a few experiences over the past several years that give me hope. Perhaps my favorite relaxing experience was paddling a little boat around the Tidal Basin on a warm spring day with a good friend. We sipped white wine in real glasses while we joined the ducks and the waterdragon Splendor in celebrating a perfect day on the water.

The possible ingredients for relaxation seem to be: free time, beauty, music, a good book, a hammock, a picnic lunch, friends, family, nice weather, a bike, chocolate. Any combination of these is a good start toward relaxation!

I will make the same offer Pauline did: If you are reading this and haven’t experienced the joy of answering 5 questions like these, please make your request and I will provide your list of questions.


Blogger GrizzBabe said...

What very thought-provoking questions . And you provided such articulate and well-thought out answers.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Nicely thought out answers. Mine would be

(1) As I get older, things disturb me less and less, since there is nothing new in what happens in this world. I find events affecting single individuals more heart rending than things affecting large groups of people. I think Stalin said it best, The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.
(2) I give as I see fit, avoiding organizations whose sole purpose is to distribute money.
(3) Just on the edge of a city, distant enough to have large space and privacy, but not so far that I am isolated.
(4) It is a core aspect of my life, although, I think this is more incidental than purposeful. My conclusions about life tend to be similar to my faith tradition, however, my reasoning is often at odds with my faith tradition.
(5) Definitely science fiction in the style of Jules Verne.
(6) At the moment, I don't relax, I recuperate. However, when I get a chance to relax, I like to spend time with family of friends doing nothing more than sharing time - nothing meaningful or significant has to happen.

I am willing to answer 5 questions on blog.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I will start thinking of 5 questions for you and will leave them as a comment on your Blog. None of your answers to my questions surprised me, so I guess I am getting to know you fairly well!

5:08 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Grizzbabe -- Thank you! Want 5 questions of your own?

5:09 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Nicelt done! None of your answers surprised me at all. You are a very clear and logical thinker and I can see the part of you that is romantic and soft-edged. You are so social and do so much celebrating and other neat things like food and music with many friends.

I am with you totally on the charity. I like to see the effect of my gift up close and personal.

I would definitely be a fiction romance, perhaps even historical.

I discuss a lot of things that disturb me with others plus a lot of self-talk and that helps me deal.

None of Richard's surprise me either. I have 2 questions for him:

If you had to do things over again, what career would you choose and why?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I am posting my answers to Pauline's questions on my next post.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I definitely want five questions!

This was the first tag I've read that was actually interesting. Great questions, as opposed to the usual "gummy bears or worms?" or other silly questions that just take up space.

Very cool answers! You're learning to relax, dah-ling, you're learning.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

MOI: I will answer you questions as supplementary to any Barbara might ask me.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Very thoughtful answers. OK, I'll take the gambit. Fire away.

10:29 PM  

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