Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Alan Alda's Seven Questions

Michael and I have admired Alan Alda's work for a long time, but we only recently found out about his Clear+Vivid podcast. We are now faithful listeners.

At the end of each interview/episode Alda asks his guest a set of questions. Michael has answered them on his blog, and he suggested that I answer them here on my blog. So I will

What do you wish you really understood?

How ever-so-slight changes in the way you look at a situation or problem can change your relationship to that problem or situation completely and permanently.

How do you tell someone that they have their facts wrong?

I try to be direct and gentle. I don't back down, but I try not to argue.

What’s the strangest question anyone has ever asked you?

This one? I really never think of questions as strange, though many questions that I get from people who don't already know me personally involve accidentals, which could be considered strange out of the context of someone who writes music. I do remember that once, when I was a teenager, someone asked me if I wanted to scramble (meaning to leave wherever we were), and I thought it was an odd question because I had never heard "scramble" used in that context. I can't remember my response.

How do you stop a compulsive talker?

By trying to lead the conversation to a place s/he knows nothing about, and keeping it there.

How do you strike up a real, genuine conversation?

By posing direct and specific questions at first, listening, and responding with more questions. Eventually the conversation involves questions that I respond to, and when all goes well the conversation goes into a series of "dances" that do not involve questions or answers.

What gives you confidence?

I feel confident when there is a flowing ease--in music or in conversation. I feel confident when I know someone is listening and not judging, arguing, or preparing what s/he is planning to say next. The inverse of this destroys my confidence.

What book changed your life?

One Morning in Maine. It was the first multi-sensual reading experience for me, where even the color of the ink helped me to feel sensations of taste and smell, of sea and air, of ice-cream and clam chowder, and the sensation of having a loose tooth. I could say it changed my life because it changed the way I read.

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