March 10, 2013

Author Q & A: Fine, By Me

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Q: I'm interested in your childhood. The book is very funny in that regard. What was it like coming of age in a household in which the father claims to be a prophet? Not every kid can make that claim, you know.

A: At the time, I felt very special. After all, my father was a prophet from another planet. That meant that I was the daughter of a prophet from another planet. I didn't quite get why the other kids didn't think I was absolutely fabulous, but I regarded myself quite highly. I do look back and consider that part of the reason I spent so much time alone is because it was much more pleasant to live in the belief that I had special powers handed down by my father than to live in a world in which I had limited, if any, control. 

Q: As a follow-up, tell us more about your dad and his beliefs. Details, please.

A: A lot of my father's beliefs were born out of the '60s thought-revolution. Much of what he says goes back to the teachings of Sufi Sam, a wealthy Jewish kid who let go of his earthly possessions and started doing dances for peace in San Francisco. My father took things a bit further, offering teachings, as he says, "to assist all people in their growth and development of living."

He never was able to form the kind of movement I think he wanted to, but he still teaches classes, and he has a website with audio downloads, meditations and what he calls "learning opportunities." I have some mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, some of what he says does resonate with me, and, in general, I have a "whatever gets you through" attitude when it comes to people's beliefs. On the other hand, I have sometimes wished that we could have even one conversation that doesn't include talking about levitation or how "we all came from the stars."

Q: There is humor throughout this book, as the subtitle implies: "A Memoir Based Mostly in Reality." But there also seems to be a serious agenda. What is your goal with this book? Who are you hoping to reach, and what is your underlying message?

A: Some years ago, I started considering the question: What do I stand for? What I realized is that I stand for healing through humor. I believe that the best we can do is to approach others and ourselves with honesty and compassion, and having a sense of humor helps with that. It's so easy to get mired down in life. Life is hard. Life is a struggle. But sometimes we make things much worse than they need to be. At least I know I do, and I suspect I'm not alone. If we've got food in the refrigerator and a roof over our heads, we're doing better than about 75 percent of the world, so we may as well see the positive in things.

I don't at all mean to diminish anyone's life experience, and I certainly don't do that with the book. But my goal in writing it is to perhaps provide a little humor and healing to others who have faced similar or equivalent extremes. 

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in South Portland. I went to Helena H. Dyer Elementary School, Memorial Middle School and South Portland High School. I was a Red Riot, though I think I perhaps attended two sporting events in my entire high school tenure. 

Q: Without giving away the story, what can you tell us about the unforgivable tragedy that caused you to doubt your powers?

(Continued on page 3)

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