Interviewing The Famous Dead! What Would You Rather Be?

June 7, 2014

Once in medical school, a teacher caught me drifting. He verbally beat me up in front of the class. I was quite embarrassed, but more for him than for myself. When he asked why I wasn’t paying attention, I said “because you’ve shown more passion in your assault on me than in anything you’ve taught this year!” He was amused and realized my point. He was curious as to where my mind had been. I told him that I had been interviewing famous dead people on what they would rather be doing.

In the memory of Dr. Anderson, and a mutual lesson in humility, I finally completed my task.

The optically impaired Helen Keller envisioned “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” The hearing challenged Ludwig van Beethoven broke his silence “I would rather write 10,000 notes than a single letter of the alphabet.” And the insanely colorful Vincent van Gogh quoted his words to Theo “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

Thomas Jefferson declared “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

Abraham Lincoln penned “I would rather be a little nobody, than to be an evil somebody.” Henry David Thoreau whimsically and verbally painted “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” And of course, Mother Teresa healed “I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” Stanley Baldwin interrupted “I would rather trust a woman's instinct than a man's reason.” And Charlotte Bronte chimed in “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

Walt Disney foresaw “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” Ernest Hemingway authored “Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”

Albert Camus hedged “I would rather live my life as if there is a god and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.”

My favorite response came from Jack London: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. “

What would you rather be?

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