Peter Singer: Throomers Interview
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
My kids. They bring constant doses of surprise, in big and small amounts.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
As a young writer, a prominent person in my field told me that my ideas didn’t fit the mould of success and that I would do better to find other work. It was a cutting remark from someone who had “made it,” trying to bring others low. I took it instead as inspiration. It gave me added fire to succeed and to take risks that others in my field wouldn’t.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
It is something I always struggle with, as I try to schedule it, but then end up finding myself using that open time to catch up on work. The two activities I find most relaxing are at the opposite end of the spectrum of physical activity: Running and reading fiction. Each clears the mind from the constant demands of the “in-box” that is always firing in your brain.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
For a family vacation, we stayed at a place in Montana that had views for miles. You could feel your heartbeats slow down as you took it all in.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Yes, though like so many others, not to the extent it should, given how blessed we are and the scope of need in the world. I’ve tried to ensure I do better at this by both regularizing it through setting a formal schedule, but also trying to embrace those spontaneous moments to try to make a difference in some large or small manner. The whole is a greater giving, though I have to admit I’ve found the former is what more assuages guilt and the latter is what brings more joy.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PASSED?
I’m going to break from the norm of listing some gathering of a famous philosopher, figure from history, and pop-culture figure. While that would be interesting, it would also likely be quite awkward. Instead, the seats at the ideal dinner for me would be filled by family members who have passed. Grandparents, cousins etc. I’d love to gather them around the table, share with them my current life questions, as well as just hear those old stories from my youth one more time. If my grandmother could cater the dinner with her fried chicken, even better!
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
People like to say that you can’t predict the future. That may be true. But that doesn’t mean we can’y identify many of the key trends and forces out there today that are likely to shape the future worlds ahead of us. There are there waiting to be seen, if we are willing to open our eyes to them.