It’s always good to do a little self-reflection now and again. I decided to Google questions about life, something to get me thinking about my priorities and how they’ve changed over the years. I found this little ditty on a site called TottalyTop10.com, under the title, Top Ten Questions for Discovering Your Life Purpose.
Q: If failure or money were not an issue, what would you do?
Schwartz: This is a great question because it removes the two biggest obstacles that keep us from following our dreams – fear of failure, and the fear that we can’t make a living doing the things we want to do in life.
When I was younger I would have answered that all I want to do is direct films. Now I’m not sure I’d want to play the Hollywood game, even if I could afford it. As they say, it’s lonely at the top. That said, I wouldn’t mind being an actor. I mean, if it were handed to me. If I didn’t have to suffer for it, year after year. And if I could act.
But the thing I long for, the thing that would provide me with a real sense of completeness…I’d love to work with gorillas in a nature preserve designed to help reintegrate them into the wild. I’d do the same with orangutans and Bonobo apes (the Bonobo is probably the smartest ape you’ll ever see, and the closest relative to humankind, sharing more than 98% of our DNA). All I ever really wanted to do as a kid was hang around animals. At my core, that’s still all I want to do. However, I don’t want to be murdered by poachers and I don’t want to see the wonderful animals I care for murdered by poachers and I’m not really sure I want to live in Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So, what I’m really looking for is a gorilla sanctuary located in Palos Verdes, California.
Q: What do people compliment you on or say you are good at?
Schwartz: Communicating. Whether in writing, on the phone or in person. It spills over into the arts as well – communicating through music, writing and film making. I guess I love people about as much as I love animals. I’ve always loved hearing peoples’ stories and discovering the details of their journies through life.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Schwartz: Reading books, watching movies. Hanging out with my wife and kids. Going to dog parks – sometimes I go to the dog park without my dog, just to watch and play with other dogs. Everything is great until the dog owners realize I don’t have a dog in the park. And then they give me the “weird” look.
Q: What do you like learning about?
Schwartz: Science. From astronomy to String Theory. I also like learning about peoples’ lives through reading biographies and watching documentaries, or through direct interviews. And I do like history, which is really like saying I’m interested in everything that’s ever occurred in human existence.
Q: If you could teach something, what would it be?
Schwartz: It seems the obvious answer is that I would teach creative writing or screenwriting. There was a time when I wanted to do that. But not so much anymore. I wouldn’t mind teaching Literature – basically turning people on to some of the great writers of our time. Sharing my passion for the discovery of great minds through great story-telling. But I’m kind-of tired of talking about three-act structure and character development. I don’t want to examine the process anymore – I just want to enjoy the results.
Q. What things make you feel happy and good about yourself?
Schwartz: Spending time with friends, which I hardly ever do anymore. But I remember my days in college – the best times I had were the all-nighters with friends, screaming passionately about films, books and politics. I think this is why I’m so drawn to the Beat Generation writers and the artists of the Lost Generation. They talked and talked and talked and created and dreamed and it was all so vibrant.
Q: In what areas do people seek your counsel?
Schwartz: I’m usually asked to help resolve conflicts between others. I was the VP of Sales and Marketing at my last job and I travelled a lot. When I came back in town and went to the office the employees would put a sign on the door that said, “The Doctor is In.” I was the only guy who would listen to everyone and try to resolve their interpersonal problems.
Q: What would you regret not doing at the end of your life?
Schwartz: Ain’t that a tough one. I would regret not living in Ireland for a few years. I would also regret not living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I would regret not working at that gorilla sanctuary. I might regret not doing at least one sky dive, unless of course that sky dive is the very last thing I do in my life.
Q: What do you value in life?
Schwartz: My family. They are the most important thing in my life. My writing and film career used to take priority over my family and, over the years, I’ve made an effort to change that. Now family comes first, even if it means I don’t get as much writing done as I used to. I can always write when my kids are in college. If I miss these crucial years with my kids it’ll be “Cat’s in the Cradle” for the rest of our lives.
Q: What causes or beliefs do you feel strongly about?
Schwartz: I’m not a big joiner of causes. I don’t like much of anything if it’s organized. And yet some really good, charitable work is done through the efforts of others and organizations that exist. I support Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and I’m behind the actions of Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherds. I still feel like there’s a lot more I can do to get involved in charitable works. I mostly just subscribe to the dictum, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Pretty good questions, eh? How would you answer them? Go ahead, give it a shot.
FYI – I’m on the road today from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm and I won’t get a chance to respond to comments until early evening. But don’t let that stop you from speaking your mind. I’m looking forward to reading your answers tonight.