What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Developing my own version of The Shire and having a enjoying a simple life with a few friends and family as neighbors I see every day, having fulfilling work that utilizes my gifts and interests and also leaves time to have a small farm and spend plenty of time with my children and later on their children too.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My childhood years were pretty traumatic. This led to spending most of my twenties wallowed in depression, not taking care of myself, and complacent mediocrity. For a while I wondered if my story would end like so many others these days–a broken person leading a joyless life until entropy gets the best of them. Right around 29 years of age I did a lot of soul-searching and realized that I have a lot of gifts to give and many positive contributions to make. Since then I’ve written my first novel, married my best friend, brought a beautiful little girl into the world, lost 150 lbs., and I’m now on the cusp of finding fulfilling work for a company that does good in the world and wants to have a caring smart guy like me working for them. It’s never too late to get your groove back. “If you will it dude it is no dream.” – Walter Sobchak paraphrasing Theodore Hertzl
Where would you like to live?
I am eternally torn between city and country. Ultimately I would love to have a small farm not too far out of a culturally diverse small city with mountains, tons of ethnic restaurants, friendly people, and fast internet. Ideally in the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Pacific Northwest.
What is your motto?
Everyone I meet has a lesson to teach me. They deserve my kindness and respect just as I deserve their kindness and respect.
Who are your favorite writers?
The answer to that question seems to change nearly every time I am asked. Certainly that list would include Wendell Berry, the prolific Kentucky farmer/writer/activist whose novels, essays, and poetry move me and always inspire. Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Herman Hesse would also be in there–a lot of my thought has been shaped through their novels. Some of my favorite nonfiction writers include Joel Salatin, Jenna Woginrich, and Neil Postman. For religious/spiritual works I am a fan of Alexander Schmemann, Thomas Hopko, Thomas Merton, and Vladimir Lossky. I can’t forget novelists I enjoy like J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert Heinlein, Paulo Coelho, George R.R. Martin, S.M. Stirling, Barbara Kingsolver, Douglas Adams, and Patrick Rothfuss. I feel like I also have to include Gregory David Roberts–his Shantaram is one of the most powerful novels I have read.