with Juliette Binoche

Viewed December 1, 2001

We had a full house tonight; the tantalizing fantasy of chocolate was irresistible to all fourteen of us. And the movie didn't disappoint; there were visions of molten chocolate that were making all of us salivate. In fact, we may have been on an emotional sugar-rush, because we couldn't seem to stop with our normal eight questions, so we had to squeeze ten questions onto the flip chart.

But the topics of conversation didn't revolve around sweets. Rather, we started out with Question #1, discussing the fears that keep us from connecting with or committing to others. Several definitions of commitment were offered, and it was pointed out that emotionally-satisfying commitment isn't limited to romantic relationships. Instead, it can be just as important in friendships.

The idea of commitment led us into Questions 8 and 9, which deal with the expectations and agendas we hold onto in our relationships. One person said that in romantic relationships she tries to get to a place inside where she accepts the other person for exactly who they are right now, without holding onto expectations or agendas for them to change. She admitted that was a difficult state of mind for her to maintain, but said that it was her definition of "love," as opposed to the more superficial state of just being "in love." And she said that she hopes that whomever she loves will reciprocate that acceptance and love her for exactly who she is, too.

Someone else pointed out that getting close to a person emotionally, like in Question #1, reminds them of the challenge of having the courage to face uncertainty, as in Question #10, because it's never possible to tell ahead of time what the outcome of any relationship will be. So it's a matter of being wise in our choice of partners, because it's only over time that we can really get to know (and therefore to love) each other.

We also tackled Question #3. Several people noted that Goodness is often defined in our American culture as having money, and that that's not always the case in other cultures. Personalizing it, one participant said she doesn't own a car and often feels looked down on as not being "good enough" because she doesn't fit the stereotyped image of what an American should be. Someone else, who has relatives who've spent some substantial time in Mexico, explained that in rural areas where almost no one has much money, the value placed on teachers is much higher than the value placed on doctors. Doctors usually have to get a second job to support themselves while doing the public service of the practice of medicine. Teachers, on the other hand, have a very high status and income because they are molding the future through their educational work.

Here are the questions:


  1. Why don't I stay when things start to get "close" emotionally?
  2. What have been the positive outcomes when I've shaken things up?
  3. How do I measure Goodness?
  4. What kind of problems come up for me when I experience "too much" pleasure?
  5. What happens to me when other people start telling me I'm having too much fun?
  6. How do I handle hypocrisy?
  7. What do I carry with me that I need to let go of so that change can happen?
  8. What is my agenda when I help others?
  9. What am I afraid of when others place expectations on me?
  10. Where do I find courage in the face of uncertainty?