Who Would It Be And Why?

I’ve seen questions like this before, but never considered my own answer before.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Recently Michael invited me to do an author interview on his blog. This being the internet, I’ve never met Michael, but he certainly seems like an interesting fellow – a video game producer and writer with a blog name that applies to all of us: The Cult of Me. All that aside, Michael was not how I answered the question. That would have been too simple. In fact, the question sent my mind bouncing like a ping pong ball in a windstorm. Below is my answer. What is yours?

You wouldn’t believe the struggle I’ve had with this question. Over the years, I’ve encountered many brilliant, talented, or famous people so I know that having a gift doesn’t guarantee that you will be interesting or fun – or pleasant. And I want this day to be truly special. So first, I nerded out. (What if we don’t speak the same language? What if they take longer than a day to get to know? What if they’re heroes who turn out to be jerks?) Eventually I broke out of this spiral by reminding myself that this is the dream sequence part of the interview. Then I couldn’t decide my motivation. Did I want to learn something (the Buddha), be inspired (Thoreau), meet a hero (John Lennon), solve a mystery (the Shakespeares), have a great conversation (Einstein), have some laughs (Mae West), share an adventure (Michael Connelly)? Next I paused, troubled, because I didn’t have enough women on the list. I paused again because so few of my personal heroes made the list. Then I realized that maybe I could select someone living, which changed everything! Finally, I wished that the question included fictional characters.

At last I forced myself to make a damn choice, with two runners-up in case we have scheduling conflicts.

 First choice: Beatrix Potter. We would wander her country estate, while chatting and observing stuff; and I would watch her draw.

 Second choice: Thelonious Monk. We would have conversations I mostly didn’t understand while walking around New York; and then I would sit in on a gig.

 Third choice: Tolstoy during his last, visionary and/or crazy days when he lived at the train station. He would talk and I would take notes.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

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