Every once in a while, people say something that resonates with us in unexpected ways.  The insight in these statements often comes from reflecting on unexpected circumstances or challenging experiences. In our first 10 years of publication, 100 people have talked about their lives in Benicia Magazine’s Q&A feature. Here are some of the insights shared in those interviews.  

Artist Lorri-Marie Jenkins on making big changes in life (February 2008): With every decision I’ve made, I’ve given myself permission to change my mind. I get so excited that I think everyone is going to come along, and they usually do.

And I’ve never been real concerned about what others think. My life is so full of that excitement that I don’t have the opportunity to look at your life, so I’m shocked that you have the opportunity to look at mine.

The analogy is that my life is like a high-rise construction site, with the beams swinging in different directions. There’s always another beam when I put my foot down, heading in a new direction, and I’m totally supported. And then the next step comes and then the step after that. I don’t know what’s next until I put my foot down.

I know people who are making changes and I tell them they have to have faith that the beam will be there. I’ve never fallen.

Charlie Knox, former Community Development Director for Benicia, on the best advice he ever got (November 2006): My father said, “If you think you have a good idea, wait five minutes and see if someone else says it before you.” A planner is not always in the best position to promote an idea – perhaps a citizen or elected official is in the best position to do so. And, besides, one rarely gets in trouble for keeping quiet.

Jerry Page, awarded the Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism during World War II, on war (July 2009): Going to war is not a decision to be arrived at with any ease or comfort. Bad things, very bad things happen in war – some of them are inevitable damage, what we euphemistically call collateral damage. Stupid mistakes are inevitably made that cost lives, friendly fire takes lives, and atrocities accompany war.  There are psychological costs for everyone involved in combat, as well as physical.

World War II clearly was a just war in my view. But I would certainly want to raise the bar very, very high for justification of war.

Teacher and mother Peggy Fulton on the perfect day (November 2010): It doesn’t have to be a monumental day to be perfect. … Really, it’s all about the perfect moments that you have many times – the angle of the sun at certain times of the day, coming home at the end of the day and having someone there, and the 100-year-old cat with the smelly meow.

Retiree Roger Lipman on building a good life (July 2011): In your 30s, you get your best ideas. The brilliance you have in your 30s sets so many things in motion. It’s the time you form your career, solidify your family. And you should be looking 20 years out at a minimum. The 30s are time to solidify your plans.
In your 40s, you have your chance to really bond with your kids, make friends who will last a lifetime, and then get serious about your finances.
The 50s are tough on males. We’re not what we once were. Most guys go nuts because they realize this is the best they’re going to be and it’s not nearly as good as it was. You try to prove everything in your 50s.
From the 60s on – well, I don’t know about the 70s yet – it’s time to have fun. I don’t have to worry about a lot now. And you realize you don’t have to win an argument. Kindness is the root of it all.
In your 70s, I think you have a great time just watching what’s going on around you.

Community Garden organizer Larry Lamoreux on the role of nature in our lives (March 2012): I was raised outdoors. I roamed the hills in Niles Canyon. Once my mom took me for a walk along the creek, and we saw 40 different kinds of birds in that one afternoon walking along the creek. Kids today don’t do that, and they need that.

Benicia High School Principal Damon Wright on the value of studying in high school (August 2012): I was not putting 110 percent into my school work. … I knew when I was in high school that I could do the minimum for about six or seven weeks, then earn As and Bs for the rest of the term and end up with a C. I was a good athlete, and my coaches kept telling me to study.

But when recruiters saw my transcript, that was it. That door closed and it haunts me to this day. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think, “What if?” That’s what motivates me to work two to three times as hard. I failed before and I don’t like that feeling, so I work to make sure I don’t fail again.

Becky Dunavent on how her experience as a science teacher prepared her to work as a Navy reservist arranging medical evacuations (June 2013): Working as a seventh-grade teacher turns out to be a great background for this type of work because you’re learning to communicate, learning to use things like Powerpoint to get your message across, teaching people to play well with others.

Retired Police Chief Jim Trimble on an annual event that mixes Liberty High students with community business people and artists (January 2014): The real reward is putting this core of adults together with this group of kids who are often judged.  Put them in one spot for a couple of hours and it’s just a whole different experience for the kids and the adults. The adults get to see the kids in a new light, and the kids get to hear from these adults, ‘Yeah, my life wasn’t perfect.’ We all have something we’ve had to overcome, and it helps kids to hear that.

Painter Lee Wilder Snider on priorities as she ages (September 2014): It has come to the point where I understand that I want to please myself and that may come at a cost of pleasing others. I’m saying no to more outside activities to allow myself to paint from the heart.

… I love engaging in life — it’s very easy for me to get pulled into things that sound wonderful. As I’m aging, I’m learning that outward engagement can come at a cost of inward development.