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.

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