1.What is your idea of happiness?
A dynamic balance amongst all the forces important in my life – desires, needs, deepest values, expression of the various facets of my inborn nature and my acquired preferences. This balance continuously shifts as I move across the complex vector of my life.
2.What is your favourite virtue?
Respectfulness toward the mystery that is in all things. Respect for the reality of each person, but, more broadly, respect for the unexplainable mystery of universe in which we find ourselves – a presence filled with life, physical phenomena, darkness and sub-worlds of thought, feeling and imagination.
3.What is your biggest weakness?
I have many weaknesses and any of them can cause grief for me or others. I include in my list impatience, self-centredness, lack of generosity, and lack of awareness of my effect upon others, but also openness and expressiveness, which in some contexts are not appreciated.
4.Who are your favourite poets?
I like individual poems by a range of poets more than I like all the poems of any poet. My list is quite eclectic, including Basho, bill bissett, William Blake, Charles Bukowski, Hayden Carruth, Leonard Cohen, Lorna Crozier, Mary Oliver, Kay Ryan, Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas. I also like the work of writers whose prose flows and tumbles like poetry and has a deep undertow, writers like John McPhee, Kiran Desai, Joan Didion, Michael Ondaatje, Annie Proulx, Peter Carey and Hiroshi Murakami. And there are contemporaries who publish sensitive and insightful haiku, tanka and other micropoetry on Twitter and on blogs. I’m thinking of writers who publish online under real, pen and site names like Claire Everett, @CoyoteSings @tankaqueen and Alexis Rotella Designs.
5.Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?
All those people who work without regard for personal gain to make the world a better place for everyone, including the artists who keep perceiving the world anew to keep human wonder awake. I’m also grateful to scientists and scholars who use art and science together for understanding and improving the human condition, and to Lao Tzu for his balance, and to Karen Armstrong for pointing us in modern times toward a path of greater compassion, and to the Inuit people who have historically listened to the large world so carefully and respectfully from their precarious vantage point.
6. What do you most dislike?
Cruelty—the wilful harming of others for pleasure—a distortion of what is helpful for us as a species. I also dislike human carelessness and disregard for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
7. What is your motto?
My motto changes as needs shift. A good one for me to fall back upon is an old Samurai adage: “I make my mind my friend”.