Rules of the Meme:
1. Leave me a casual comment of no particular significance,like a lyric to your current favorite song, or your favorite kind of sandwich, maybe your favorite game. Any remark, meaningless or not.
2. I will respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. Update your blog or LiveJournal with the answers to the questions.
4. Include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in your own post.
5. When others respond with a desultory comment, you will ask them five questions.
My answers to the questions I received from Satyr beneath the fold.
1. If you had the chance to write a letter to your 20 year old self, what would you say?
That’s a tough one. Ah, young Richard. I have so much to tell you; sadly, the cruelty of time’s arrow prevents me from doing so. But I think if I could send, say, a brief note, I’d advise Young Richard to not be afraid. I had a tendency to say "No" whenever faced with opportunities, because I was afraid I’d get injured, or sick, or that I’d make myself look like a fool. I’d tell the young me to not worry about these things, and just say yes.
2. If you could magically be fluent in one other language, what would you choose?
That’s a really tough one. I think I would choose Mandarin Chinese, though. Despite the problems that China has now with human rights, with the way they treat their people, and all that, there’s a lot of fascinating stuff in that culture, which has survived for so long more or less intact, despite the attempts by forces outside and within to destroy it.
3. What advice would you give me?
I try not to give advice these days, except on specific topics that I have some expertise in. You seem to be doing pretty well in your life, and given some of the difficulties you face, remarkably so. I suppose the best advice I could give you is to hang out with me more.
4. What was the most valuable thing you learned in college?
A couple of the most important insights I ever had in college were in my first year in the dorms. The first one I had, I think, happened when I was in our floor lounge, and my roommate and I were talking about Dungeons and Dragons. One of the jocks on our floor said something about "get a life" and what not. I asked if he had a life and if so what he did with it. He started talking about football. And that’s when I realized that everyone’s got something they’re geeky about, and on that basis I could figure out how to become friends with just about anyone.
The second insight was pretty much related to that. I was chatting with a friend of mine who was active in Renaissance faires and such, and she started making fun of another woman on our floor for "not even knowing what a bodice is." I said something along the lines of, "Do you think she might be making fun of you because you don’t even know what an end zone is?" She just looked at me like I was drunk. She didn’t know what an end zone was, but couldn’t imagine that it would be relevant to her or to anyone else. And that’s when I realized that some people will do whatever they can to advance their own reputation in their limited social circle, to the point where they exclude bringing in other people.
Reading that, I’m not at all sure it makes any sense. Hm.
5. How do you define love?
I’m glad that you saved the easiest question for last. At the most basic, simplistic level possible, before any of the inevitable qualifications and conditionals that will render the answer effectively meaningless, to love someone is to make the conscious choice to sacrifice some part of yourself to provide for the wants or needs of another person.
But once all the qualifiers are accounted for, "Love" is basically what I point to when I say, "That’s love."