Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Interview with Myself

To begin with, I want to thank those of you who reached out to me after my rant last week. The notes I received touched me and to those who help me have my first sales through Red Bubble, a big thanks. It was a real treat to get notice of those sales. Oddly, Red Bubble did not give me information about who exactly to thank so I don't know who you are, which seems to be an odd quirk of Red Bubble. I receive a blog from Chris Guillebeau, whose Art of Nonconformity has been a source of inspiration for me. His latest blog is about interviewing yourself in order to take stock. Last week I touched on the need to reassess what I have been doing and since Chris's blog addresses this, I am going to proceed with the interview that he suggests.

Dear Tony,
You are 39 years old. What do you have to show for it?

My family here in Turkey, meaning my wife Pinar and son Sinan as well as our relatives here is something that I have to show for my time so far. These relationships as well as the many relationships I have developed and maintained throughout my years are certainly a large part of the bounty of my life. Moving to a new country and starting a new chapter in my life over the last seven years has been full of laughter and tears, hellos and goodbyes. I lament that creating this new story has also meant the conclusion of other tales. When I look at all the people I send this blog to, I always wish I could sit down with each of those people and visit for awhile.

I have lots of memories and experiences to show for my time so far. I have tried to think about my life in terms of what I would want to recollect as a man taking his last breaths. I am have had some success in that regard, but I can do better. I think I have held onto some things in my life longer than I should have and let go of other things much too soon. I guess in the living of things, one hopefully develops the wisdom of discernment for such things. I still need to keep going out on those limbs, cause that's where the fruit is. Now that I am a father, I think about the legacy I want to leave for my son, I want him to see taking risks as a vital part of living fully.

Are you living the dream?

I am really fixated on the dream being living as an artist. I am living as a teacher right now. I love teaching, but I love art more. So, I am not satisfied. Because right now it seems easier to take care of my responsibilities through being a teacher, I am at risk of becoming complacent, of letting Ease take charge.

As you look back on your life, what are you most proud of, what do you regret, and how do you feel about each of those things?

I am most proud of what I have done to maintain my individuality. I have always felt it important to find my own way. As a child, when my parents would tell me how to complete some task, I always insisted on finding my own way to complete the task. Though my parents would often have been correct in suggesting an efficient way, I think that my insistence in making my own way has helped me to navigate the multifarious traps of conformity that this life holds out to us. I am proud of my ability to self-reflect and admit to my follies and course-correct. I am not afraid to be the fool nor am I too proud to admit when I have been. I regret those who have been hurt by my foolishness. Though I think I was generally acting on what I thought was true at the time, on my own best judgment, hindsight shows me that I have made mistakes in judgment and those mistakes have touched the lives of others. I have a range of feelings about those things, ranging from bemusement and delight to anger and shame.

* What's next, self?

Art. I wont be satisfied until I am fully living my dream of being a full time professional artist.

* If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it?

I would leave my current job IMMEDIATELY. I would set up an art studio and divide my time between making art, visiting with the people I love and traveling to the places I have always wanted to see.

Since I don't know that I even have that year, none of us does, I think I should give more credence to my answer to this question. This has been a really useful process. Here are some other questions to consider:

# Why do you do the things you do?

# What do you really believe in? (What do you know to be true?)

# Where do you find your security?

# What bothers you, and what are you doing about it?

# What worries you?


  1. This is great, Tony. Thanks for sharing your answers for everyone to see.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Tony. Apart from being interesting I think it would be a useful exercise for me and some of my friends in a personal growth seminar. I will share it with them. I wish you well in forging the path to full-time art. I am trying to leave teaching, too. But, I don't yet know what will replace it. Lots of Love, Shari

  3. I recommend The Artist's Way. It's not just for artists. It has lots to offer for all creative endeavors.

  4. Congratulations on the sales. And you have some lovely art so very well deserved. RedBubble encourages the buyers to get in touch with the artist but we don't make it compulsory as some buyers like to be anonymous.
    And I love Turkey - the homepage today is Istanbul
    Martin (cofounder of RedBubble)