At the end of The Actor’s Studio, the host, James Lipton, would ask guests to answer what he called ‘The Proust Questionnaire’ [which was really ‘The Pivot Questionnaire’]. It was interesting to listen to guests’ answers to these 10 questions. Since first watching the show, I’ve always wondered – what would my responses to these questions be? What would they reveal about me to me? And as I’ve continued to evolve exponentially, it strikes me that now is the perfect time for me to complete my own Pivot/Proust Questionnaire.
What is my favourite word?
There are some words which just say what I’m feeling in the moment and for which there are no substitutes. Most swear words would fall into that category. And I know that my favourite word is ‘giggle’. It’s onomatopoeic and I enjoy onomatopoeia. And it’s just so youthful and happy and innocent. Giggling – hearing it and giggling myself – lifts my spirit.
What is my least favourite word?
For me, it’s ‘no’. It’s energetically hard and harsh. The vocal inflection is always down. Whenever I’ve heard it said to me, my body response has been one of feeling hit. It is so limiting and negative and unfriendly and, in my experience, usually unfair. And I’ve coupled it with ‘can’t’ – not as in I’m not physically able to do something or do not yet have the skill and as in I’m not allowed to try something for whatever reason: that I would fail at the task, I have to wait my turn [which never seemed to come], that it would be ludicrous for me to even consider trying – “What was I thinking?”
What turns me on?
Intelligence and curiosity to explore new things turn me on big time. Friendship is a turn on for me – true and genuine friendship based on respect and caring and shared interests. Loyalty is a turn on for me – not blind loyalty which, to me, smacks of pandering and loyalty based on respect and lack of judging. And the beauty of a glorious garden in the late spring with the sun beaming down and a beautiful blue sky and with tulips and iris and lilacs and hummingbirds and butterflies. What a wonderful place to sit and just be in.
What turns me off?
Bullies of any sort turn me off – those who get off on making themselves feel greater by making everyone else feel small; those who pass judgement on others without basis and who, once they make up their mind about others, stay fixed in their opinions; those who use sarcasm about other people and think that they’re being witty and funny when they do that; those who can’t admit when they’re wrong; those who enjoy generating fear in others. People who pontificate about everything like they’re the only people who know anything about anything and whose opinion is the only one that matters really turn me off. My immediate response is, “Who died and appointed you God?”
What sound or noise do I love?
I can’t insolate this to only one sound. I love the sound of a good belly laugh and giggles and joy-filled play. Hearing Canada Geese in the fall and again in the spring stops me in my tracks. I can sit beside running water and hear the wind rustling the leaves and immediately I’m calm. I love music that’s well-played or well-sung. And for me that means, that the creator of the music is immersed in what they’re doing and expressing what the music brings to them. There is such honesty in that. It may not always be pretty and it is always honest. And I’m a sucker for a good baritone.
What sound or noise do I hate?
I have difficulty being around people who cry, especially little kids. I want to help make things better even as I know that I can’t take their pain away. I don’t like yelling and loud voices a lot even though I can raise my voice with the best of them. I hear these sounds and my body always responds as if it’s been hit, and I guess it has been in a way. And I know that the sound I hate most is hearing anything which sounds like physical assault – hitting and spanking and slaps. There is always an immediate body response in me when I hear those sounds – like it’s happening to me, too.
What is my favourite curse word?
Frankly, it’s ‘fuck’. That word just says everything so succinctly. And it can express a myriad of emotions depending upon the vocal inflection one gives to it. And it can be used as almost every part of speech. It’s really such a versatile word.
What profession other than my own would I like to attempt?
Right now, my profession is being retired. And I know that I will always be an educator in some guise or other. If I had not been an educator, I think I would like to be a performer – an actor and singer. There was a performer aspect to the profession I had for over 33 years so that makes eminent sense to me. And if not a performer, then I would like to be a writer. I love words and how they can express what I feel and the impact they can have on others. There is magic in words.
What profession would I not like to do?
I can think of many prosaic and necessary professions I would not feel suited for. And the profession I would not like to do [choose] is to be a politician. I would find it incredibly difficult to speak out of both sides of my mouth simultaneously all the while saying nothing at all. And I’d always be worried about being re-elected. Tough way to conduct the business of the nation when that would always be a primary consideration. [Think US Congressmen who get elected and seem to immediately start to campaign again since they’re elected every two years.]
And finally ….
If Heaven exists, what would I like to hear God say when I arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I’d love to hear “Welcome. Come and join the choir.” No judgement or weighing of my soul – just an open-hearted invitation.
As I’ve considered these answers, I know that how I’ve answer these questions today is not how I would’ve answered them even a few months ago and I know that as I continue to change and evolve, my answers will change and will reflect that in me.
It’s interesting how we answer questions when our responses are for our personal consumption only. When we don’t choose our words carefully because we are concerned about how others might respond to our answers, we can reveal so much of who we are to ourselves. Answering these questions has been an opportunity for me to be even more real to me about who I AM.
I wonder … How would you answer these questions for yourself? What would your answers be?