The 3-minute interview with Alan Alda

The 71-year-old actor’s second book, “Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself,” was released Tuesday. He will speak before the National Kidney Foundation of Northern California in The City on Sept. 19. Alda, an Emmy Award-winner known primarily for his role on television’s “M*A*S*H,” penned the book after he nearly died from an intestinal illness.

What’s the overriding message of your book? I think I shy away from messages even when writing something like this. I want the reader to be stimulated. … I want them to get to their own insight. I tell them what I went through. It’s funny; it’s so strange some of the things I went through. … In reading that, maybe they’ll get ideas about their own lives.

What’s your favorite story to tell, whether in the book or not? There was a wonderful day that I talk about in the book. I’ve been lucky enough to live through all the things that are supposed to give meaning to our lives like parenting, grandparenting, art, celebrity. All these things you expect meaning to come from and sometimes it comes when you’re not expecting it. It was a day when I got together with two of my grandkids.

What’s the foremost characteristic of a meaningful life? For me, this book is not about the meaning of life. For me, I find that even though I’ve accomplished a few things in my life, looking back on accomplishments doesn’t give me a sense of satisfaction. … So I look forward to new accomplishments, and theydon’t have to be big. That makes the time I’m spending on the planet worthwhile to me.

If you were to sit down and write a fortune for a fortune cookie, what would you write? Please ignore previous cookie.

dsmith@examiner.com


Check out more 3-minute interviews from our San Francisco newsroom.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Cyclists have flocked to Market Street since private vehicles were largely banned from a long stretch of it in January. (Amanda Peterson/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Plans for sidewalk-level bikeway on Market Street dropped due to costs, increased cyclist volume

Advocates say revisions to Better Market Street fail to meet safety goals of project

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

Most Read