Robert Miller’s INSIGHTS questionnaire…
I’M TELLING YOU FOLKS: It’s Never Been Easy Being a Friend of Mine.
Several years ago, I asked my friends to fill out the following form and return it to me.
I would like to collect something written from each of my friends. Rather than a general sample, I decided it would be most interesting if each would follow a prescribed format of questions and requests for comment. Here’s hoping this will pique your creative juices.
Please fill this out and return it as soon as possible. I don’t mean to pressure you, but I will, as of right now, not be speaking to you until I have this returned to me with all of the questions covered.
My name isbut you can call me
Are you now or have you ever been?
Can you get there from here?
Do you know what time it is? And, if so, really, what time is it?
Have you ever wondered why?
Have you asked yourself when? And where?
Don’t you have anything better to do?
Fill in the blanks:
Thank God I am not a
I’m certainly glad I’m a
Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and
Profiling with -ists:
List words profiling yourself using the suffix -ist: (ie: hedonist, capitalist, masochist, etc.)
I would like my tombstone to read:
Thank you. Please return this to me with a sample of your urine to be tested.
Your friend, Bob.
Tom Miles’s Response to Bob Miller’s Insights Questionnaire…
This collection of writings is my off—the—top—of—my—head response to your tantalizing questions. No attempt has been made to correct or edit these remarks other than simple spelling and punctuation corrections as written. I hope these responses are what you are looking for.
My name is Tom, but you can call me Tom. All of my life my name has been an issue for me. When I was very young, my family called me T. D. for my first and middle initials. I perceived these initials to be less than respectful of my person, so when we made the move from Neligh to Kearney when I was ten, I insisted that my family call me Tom from my real first name, Thomas. Ever since then, I have done a number of things to add to the status of my identity including getting ordained to the priesthood so that many people have come to call me Father Tom, Now that I am making new changes in my life and trying to find a more basic understanding of my identity, Tom is once again the basic name. I, too, must come to grips with finding out who Tom is.
Are you now or have you ever been?
This phrase comes from an era of our country’s history which seems so remote from the present. And yet there is a strange feeling I have. It is like looking over your shoulder to see if there is someone coming from your blind side. I just can’t escape the thought that we are never far from the McCarthyism of the early 50′ s. The moment our society allows anyone to single-handedly set the standard for our participation in it, that moment will be the birth of a new McCarthyism.
There are just too many people with pathological needs to control who would willingly come forward to ask the damning question. The obvious answer to this question will always be yes, and it will always lead to some form of exclusion. To be alive and responsive to the issues of one’s age will inevitably lead one to the edge of set standards of orthodoxy. Those who cannot or will not conform to the rigid norm will be found guilty by the McCarthy’s of a new age. They will be hunted down and exterminated like the Jews of Nazi Germany. They will be persecuted and crucified as Christ and the early Christians were. They will be branded in the same manner as Hester was in The Scarlet Letter. However, I also believe that the will to be authentic is stronger than any tyrant’s will to control. I believe that any society which is human will ultimately correct itself to allow for the free expression of truth as we understand it.
Can you get there from here? No.
We seem to have an irrational belief that we as individuals and as a collective race of humans will always be able to get to our pre-set goals and destinations. Here are two reasons why I believe that this is an erroneous assumption.
First, a simple examination of the facts will show that man has aspired to far more than we have been able accomplish. There are several destinations the attaining of which will prove to be impossible. True, the rapid proliferation and spread of knowledge in our generation has given the impression that there is nothing that will not be possible eventually. But the fact remains that we are not God, and there are just some things only God can do. Here are just some places only God can get to.
The second reason I think you can’t get there from here is probably far more prevalent than the first. I think the reason the old Vermont farmer said you can’t get there from here is unspoken. You can’t get there from here unless you correct a few errors first. You can’t get to any place in Salem, Oregon without crossing the Willamette River if you are trying to get there from West Salem. Thus, if by mistake you have crossed the river trying to find a Salem address, you have made an error which must be corrected first before you can get on with finding your destination.
I have often observed that lives which have been flawed by fundamental errors in the beginning must be dealt with in terms of those errors before any progress can be made in other areas. Time and again people who at first thought nothing of basic educational needs have had to deal with them later in life before they could pursue other vocational goals. That is why we find so many men at age 30-45 getting GED High School Diplomas and going off to college. They have discovered that they couldn’t get there from here until certain errors were corrected.
There are many features of this truth in life around us. The resurgence of interest in things spiritual, the rethinking of values and goals at mid-life, the decision to move or take a new job, even the taking up of philosophy or theology ag an avocation-all these are symptoms of at least an unconscious understanding that there may be a fundamental error in our first principles which could be preventing us from finding our way along that happy road to destiny.
Perhaps the answer to the dilemma of the unattainable destination may come from another simple person who, like the Vermont farmer, says far more than is revealed on the surface of things. This fellow was overheard to say to a newcomer at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting-You only need to know two things about God. First there is one. Second, you’ re not him.
Can you give me the correct time?
Probably not. My watch is always off to some degree, and my timing in other ways is probably worse.
Have you ever wondered why? Yes.
Probably a more cogent question to pursue would be to ask why it is important to know why. I can remember the near-maddening stage my daughter went through when she wanted to know the why of everything.
To ask the question why, assumes a view of reality which assumes causality. There has to be a cause of everything, and the first cause is probably God. I will not pass on the validity of this thought except to say that not all pursuits of understanding follow this line of thinking,
I have found in my life that the answer to the question why is just as likely to turn out to be-why not? What we are left with is another question-Now that things are the way they are, what do you chose to do next. The why may reveal a number of things which may
prove to be helpful, but we are left eventually with the task of going on with the task at hand, that is the task of living. The endless quest for the answer to why stops short of that task.
Don’t you have anything better to do?
Obviously not, since I ‘m doing this.
Thank God I t m not a guru. I’m certainly glad I ‘m a seeker.
Years ago, I heard a stirring account of the life of Gert Behanna, the author of the book The Late Liz. In her account of her life, Gert remarked that she couldn’t stand snobs. Then, with her characteristic humor, she poked a little fun at herself saying, I’m a snob about snobs-I look down on people who look down on people.
Like this wonderful person, I am aware that the tendency to complacency and pride is altogether too easy to slip into. This question evokes that kind of response, and I’m afraid you can’t answer it without falling into that trap. So, I ‘m sure that the pest way to answer the question is to say, Thank God I ‘m not just a seeker. I ‘m certainly glad I’m a guru of
baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.
List words below profiling yourself using the suffix-ist
Bassist, opportunist, analyst, hedonist, homilist, realist, sexist, theorist, populist, pragmatist, optimist, monogamist, feminist, conversationalist, dramatist
I would like my tombstone to read-
Here lies old Thomas D.
He lived his life from A to Z.
He failed sometimes and made mistakes,
and caused some ladies some heartbreaks.
But never did he think to quit nor falter in the thick of it.
Perhaps too stupid to be scared, to risk this life he always dared.
Editorial note: this is the same Tom Miles as Kearney Creates has featured in his stories from The Liar’s Bench. Both Bob and Tom were resident of Holdrege at one time.