• Danny Thomas

Secrets revealed - Proust's questions Numbers 5-8

Updated: Feb 8, 2019

Here's my second installment of answers to Proust's Questionnaire. It has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering a series of 35 questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. I'll add these thought-provoking questions and my answers in a series of blog posts and hope you'll join me here often for more news about me and my work.

5---Which living person do you most admire?

A few years ago I would have quickly answered with Bill Cosby. I discovered him when I was in high school, and I used to tell people that I wanted to be Bill Cosby. I adored “I Spy.” I admired his earning a doctorate in education; I loved Fat Albert; I enjoyed Dr. Huxtable. But, sadly, that is no more because it all got flushed down a toilet when it became painfully clear that he has suffered a long time from a horrible predatory sexual addiction. And by that I don’t emphasize that he was the one suffering. He traumatized so many women I am ashamed for him. I admire many other people now, but I need to think before singling anyone out. Yesterday I considered the British actress, Helen Mirren, who I believe is very appealing. She has a certain charisma, a personal magnitude, so I googled her, but now I’m not sure I admire everything about her. She has no children, says she doesn’t need them, and explains she’s an atheist. To me these are off-putting so maybe I should give this more thought. To be continued….

6---What is your greatest extravagance?

Books. I have at least two dozen waiting to be read. And my wife, Cynthia, would probably say flying business class on the red-eye to Europe. I’ve flown perhaps a dozen times overnight to Europe, only once in business class. Arriving in London or Paris or Rome at 7:30 AM totally exhausted because of lack of sleep is not something I want to relive. That business class flight last year was spectacular because I slept nearly 4 hours on the 9-hour flight, and, when we arrived, I was only a little tired instead of worn down to a nub. For me, if you must fly overnight, business class is the only way to fly. And you can read a book en route.

7---What is your current state of mind?

I cannot declare perpetual bliss, but I’m pleasantly occupied 99% of the time. I have more time to contemplate small things these days. As a retiree, I seldom need to rush off right after breakfast to go to work. I actually have time to read the editorials in the newspaper. If I notice we have a towel rack that’s a little wobbly, so that you need to be very careful how you place the towel on it, or it will come crashing down on the bathroom floor, I have time to effect a permanent repair. (Notice I specified having the time, not necessarily the skill to repair it. But, if I google what’s needed and watch the video two or three times, I can usually get by.) And since the old saying “Happy wife, happy life” is obviously a universal truism, my life is good.

8---What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Patience. Perhaps this is because I’ve seen how waiting for something to happen can deteriorate into cowardice. That is, if you’re faced with a daunting prospect, a really tough problem, and someone suggests that “Maybe you should wait and think about it a little longer. Maybe something as yet unseen will change the situation and solve this problem for you,” then I can see how this can be an appealing choice, especially if taking action involves considerable risk. Especially if you have a lot to lose if you make the wrong decision. But I’ve also found that hunkering down to wait for someone else, anything else to defend against the monster can become so appealing that you lose your resolve to face it any time. In my opinion, most of the time it’s best to do something. To act! You can make adjustments after you’re moving, but you’ve got to get moving.

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