Ferndale, USA - Roofer
Interview made by Cyril Bruyelle in May 2017
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Honestly that wasn’t really a question I ever answered as a kid, I never had that frame of mind.
I think most of the things that I thought of, were just ideas that were fed to me by teachers, parents and other’s kids parents.
The only thing that I can say that I really wanted to be was an Olympic speed skater because skating was my favorite thing in the world. But, we were poor growing up and even like a decent pair of speed skates is a thousand dollars. It was not something that was realistic for us. I wasn’t very ambitious as a kid and I never really tried to make it happen, so that was just an idea that died as I grew older. I never really had much a sense of ultimate direction in that respect.
At this point in time, the only thing that keeps popping up in my head is something that I’d like to eventually do is write a book, something pretty generic like an autobiography. I think my life has been pretty interesting in a lot of ways. If I could ever figure out how to write it all down in a meaningful way, I think it would make a pretty good book.
With whom would you like to have a coffee?
I would have to pick one of the great religious figures. I’m not a particularly religious person but I’d like to clear up some of the mess the history had made in the name of religion and get the answers straight from them. Jesus or Mohamed, one of those two I think.
If you could choose something that could be taught in every school in the world, what would it be?
Well, I don’t know if it’s something that a school should teach or if it’s something that parents should teach or if it’s just something that society in general should teach, but I think impulse control would be a really good place to start. People’s impulses can cause a lot of problem.
To you, what’s the main characteristic that all human being have in common?
Well obviously basic physical characteristics, like our general anatomy and physiology.
I guess what makes us human as opposed to an animal is some level of reflective self-awareness. We are aware of our own existence as a being that is in some sense separate from its environment and can act on its environment instead of just being acted on by the environment. So I guess that’s one thing we all have in common or at least most of us have in common. But human beings are really complicated and different and I’m not sure I can really say that we all have something in common.
To you, who is the happiest person on earth?
Me, I’ve never met anybody that’s like as clearly as at ease and as peaceful as I am and if I have I just didn’t notice.
If you were President of the US, what would your first reform be?
Oh man.. you know that’s the kind of question that I could pull an answer out of the top of my head but when I really think about it, if I was actually in the position of having to do something like that, it would probably be a totally different question or answer.
I don’t know if there is a right answer to that. I’d get the US back involved in the Paris accord, that’s a decent place to start. That’s a pretty clear cut in my eyes but I’d really have to think about that one for a while.
What do you need?
The basic necessities of life are pretty much enough for me in terms of needs; food, clothing, shelter. I’ll leave it at that.
What would you do if we gave you 1 million dollars now?
I would figure out a way to invest it so that it wouldn’t disappear right away. Figure out a way to make some sort of minimal basic living income off of it as a first step. If possible increase it dramatically and then figure how to do something good with it.
Which innovation, realistic or not, would greatly ease your day-to-day life?
Being able to fly, well getting from A to B to C and back to A and back to B and back to C and over to D and over to Z and X and Y like this just all day everyday trying to get from place to place to get everything done.
Not having to put gas in my car and insure it and get it fixed. It would just really simplify things quite a bit? Or just being able to teleport myself or just cut out all the space in between.
What’s the news that affects you the most in your country these days?
I would say terrorists’ attacks but not like in a panic strict sense. I’m not one of those, “seal up the borders and ban Muslims” type of people. To me it’s really the archetypal example of what human beings are willing to do to each other and it’s horrible. If we expand at the category, I would say any human atrocity and all the horrible things that humans do to each other they’re just stopping me in my tracks. At least once a day I hear something and I’m like….”wow that’s crazy”.
Do you think your life is easier or more complicated than the life of your parents?
I live a lot better than my parents, but I think most of it is my mentality.
I guess it would depend on what you mean by live better. Life is really easy, you know. Without going into too much detail about my parents, their mental states and the lives that they’ve lived, I would definitely say that I got it way easier than they did. I think that’s true for me and most people. My life is a progression from my parent’s lives.
If you had to create a company, what would it be?
If I had unlimited resources and it was just something that I could create out of thin air and I didn’t have to go through all the trouble of building it and making it work, I would probably follow in like Tesla, Elon Musk, people who are really innovative and try to figure out truly sustainable ways of projecting humans civilizations decades, hundreds of years into the future.
I’m not sure exactly what it would be. Nuclear fusion, you know they’ve never been able to get that of the ground except in the form of bombs. But if I had to pick one thing that could actually make million of years of relatively clear energy for everybody I would go with that.
Can you draw something beautiful?
I always had trouble in art class; I was always the last guy to get my project done.
What are you afraid of?
Singing in front of people. No actually I don’t mind singing in front of people, I just can’t think of anything to sing.
What am I afraid of? I guess some of the more apocalyptic potential outcomes of human civilization are pretty terrifying and not necessarily all that unrealistic. Maybe the more far-fetched one, but human beings can really mess things up. I don’t think it’s going to go in that direction but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities, and that scares me.
The obvious, intense physical pain, that’s a pretty scary thought but in general pretty avoidable. Most of the things that scare me are things that I’ve conquered and dealt with, fear of heights stuff like that.
So at the end, what really scares me are really intense physical pain and horrible outcomes of human civilizations.
What is your dream?
Well I guess I would say world peace, it’s pretty generic but I can’t think of anything better.
Close your eyes, you are in 2100, what do you see?
Something either way better or way worse, that is kind of overlapping and side-by-side.
I mean either we sort out our problems and learn how to live as a global community in the long run, because there is no way to avoid that. Isolation is just not going to work in a world where everything is just a button click away. it’s just not feasible in the long run. So we’re going to have to figure out how to get along and make that more important than all of the other reasons that we have for hating each other and distrusting, killing, fighting. So either, we solve it in the long run and everything’s great. Or we don’t, and either we just stall out and nothing gets better or things get way worst. I guess those are three outcomes, there’s a middle road, it doesn’t have to go necessarily to one side or to the other but it could.
What is the most beautiful thing that you’ve seen in your life?
I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things.
Well I didn’t see it personally, maybe the most touching thing, if that’s what you mean by beautiful, was a video that somebody posted on Facebook of a little bunny that had lost the use of its back legs. Somebody created a little harness for him with wheels on it and this little bunny was so happy like it was. It literally brought tears to my eyes and I usually don’t get that kind of emotional reaction out of things. That’s the most recent like really powerful touching thing that I’ve seen.
In terms of things that I’ve seen with my own two eyes, I’d have to say the view from Dark Mountain in Colorado. I go snowboarding a lot during the winter; there is a spot in Colorado where if you stand on top of mountain, you can see down into this reservoir valley rounded by mountain stretching off into the distance. It’s the kind of thing that you would think of as to what heaven looks like.
If you had to write a book about the current world, what would be the title?
I guess it would be something like “Which way will it go?”.
I would definitely try to think of something cleverer than that but it would be something along those lines.
Who is God for you?
That’s a really hard question to answer.
The who aspect of it, is something that I’m very uncertain about. I’m not sure if my idea of God really contains a who. I feel like when you get that big, the particularization sort of vanishes on that scale, but I could be wrong about that. I’m pretty convinced that the universe has some sort of innate intelligence to it.
I go back and forth on that a lot, I’m not convinced that the prophets have really captured the essence of that. Religious documents have their answers in a context that was culturally true thousands of years ago. I’m not sure how relevant it is anymore, that’s not a question I can answer.
But in my own life I definitely feel that there is some guiding protecting sort of hands. I definitely feel like my existence is somehow important enough to move me all. I wasn’t born a flea or a dog or raindrop, you know I’m a human being with all those capacities and I live in this world with all this potential. So of all the possible outcomes that might exist, the lines that I could have taken, I took this one and I feel like there is some kind of meaning to that. What exactly it is, that’s a question, I’m always in the process of answering. At this point I don’t really know what the word God means.
Which of your country's cultural specificities are you the proudest of?
You know I haven’t really traveled abroad. I don’t really know what things are like in other places. I know that there are some places out there where life is a lot more difficult than it is here. Not every American has it made obviously, we definitely have our fair share of social issues and things that haven’t sorted out yet but I really have grown to appreciate that my life is mostly up to me. There are obviously certain things that I am not allowed to do, that I’ll get in trouble for or encounter all kinds of resistance and roadblocks. There are limitations on what I’m able to do at any given time but I think I have a much wider spectrum of potential life decisions because I am an American than people do in a lot of other places so I wouldn’t say I’m proud of that but I appreciate it more as I get older.
If you could do any job regardless of money, what would it be?
Well it would definitely be some sort of humanitarian adventure.
I like what they’re doing over in highland park, maybe they’re actually doing it in other places. They’re building little houses for homeless people. They’re just like little miniature houses of probably 2 or 300 square feet. I think it’s a cool idea, you can build a whole bunch of them on one city block.
I’ve toyed with the idea of being a drug counselor because I have a history of addiction and recovery and I think I’ve got a pretty rare take on the matter. I might change my mind about that if I actually did it because I’m sure it’d be depressing; watching people that you can help go out when in reality they are screwing their lives again. I’m sure this’s what happens 95% of the time.
Finally, I think it would be tackling the world hunger issue, getting massive amounts of food out there to people who need it.
If you had to explain our planet to an alien, what would you say?
That would depend on them a lot too. I would have to have some knowledge of who I’m talking to to know how to describe it to him. If they were more advanced than us I would almost kind of apologize for the state of affairs and how much we’ve tended to squander of gift. I would tell him it’s a mixed bag, you never know what to expect, and what you see will depend on where you land your spaceship.
And you, which question would you like to ask the world?
I guess it would be something along the lines: what can you personally do to help, to make things better with the resources that you have?
Obviously plenty people are limited and can’t do much but I think it’s a good place to start. For everybody to at least think about it and to care enough to be willing to answer the question.