And I just thought, well, that's the world—for everything that'll burn you, there's something that'll heal your burns. So I just stay on that side of the path.
I see possibilities in everything. For everything that's taken away, something of greater value has been given. As big as my problems are, as big as Parkinson's is, for example, it can't take up that much space in a world that has so much capacity for good stuff. It just doesn't. I just don't let it take up that much room.
Do you think one can always be both optimistic and realistic?
Aren't they sometimes at odds?
No, I don't think so. I mean, I think it's okay, obviously, to acknowledge obstacles and setbacks and problems and issues. But as long as you're dealing with the truth, you're in good shape. I find as long as I acknowledge the truth of something, then that's it. I know what it is and then I can operate. But if I overestimate the downside of something or the challenge of something and I get too obsessed about the difficulty of it, then I don't leave enough room to be open to the upside, the possibility.
So I think you definitely have to acknowledge the fact of something. If something isn't a movable object, then you have to start thinking about getting around it. But you can't do that until you acknowledge it and take its full measure and understand its true weight.
Where do you most often find happiness?
In my family, in being with my wife and my kids. If at any moment of stress or tension or whatever I could close my eyes and be anywhere, it'd be with them. That's just neverending. I just get so much joy from my family.
I read that you are raising your children in a Jewish home, an interfaith home really.
Is there anything specific about Judaism that you've found really comforting?
My wife is Jewish, and therefore, it's my children's birthright to be Jewish. And so I always gave them the option when they became old enough to be bar mitzvahed, to make that choice for themselves, and they all—I have one seven-year-old, so she obviously hasn't got there yet—but my other three all made the decision to become bar or bat mitzvahed.
What I love about that and the teaching they've gotten through that, is that it's a lot about asking questions and a lot of it is open to interpretation. It's real, so I love that. I mean, even the Seder has the questions. There's a lot of participation. It's a very participatory faith, and it encourages young people to be inquisitive and to search and to seek. I also love the sense of community. There's something to having that experience, that communal experience and being in synagogue or church or whatever. It's also been very welcoming to me, being a non-Jew. The Reform Judaism movement has been really welcoming and supportive of me, and I've spoken at gatherings and been involved in seminars with various leaders. It's been a really fulfilling experience.
What inspires you?
I think just every new day, just waking up. I wake up curious every day and every day I'm surprised by something. And if I can just recognize that surprise every day and say, "Oh, that's a new thing, that's a new gift that I got today that I didn't even know about yesterday," it keeps me going. It keeps me more than going. It keeps me enthusiastic and grateful.