13. On page 161, Sidney writes, "My work is me, and I try my damnedest to take very good care of me, because I'm taking care of more than just the me that one sees. I'm taking care of the me that represents a hell of a lot more than me." Do you feel this passionately about your work? If not, is there something in your life that inspires the drive he describes? Given the demands put upon you, how do you take care of yourself?
14. Sidney's vacation to Acapulco with his agent Marty Baum took a deathly turn for the two men when they were overtaken by the undertow. Have you or anyone close to you ever had a brush with death? If so, describe it. Other than survival, what was important to you in that moment? Did your life flash before your eyes? Did you have any regrets? What hopes and dreams suddenly became most important to you? In what ways did the brush with death—your own or someone close to you—change your life?
15. What do you think of Sidney's explanation of the concept of Gaia on pages 202 and 203? He uses the story of the baby monkeys and the wire mothers to make a point about his fear of humanity's movement away from nature and nurturing relationships toward a virtual reality that he believes will ultimately end in the earth becoming humanity's "wire mother," and it will result in the withering of our souls. Has technology changed the way we relate to our children, our partners, our friends and even strangers? In what ways are these changes good or bad?
16. When you were a child, what would you have said to the question, "Who are you?" Would you have had a quick answer like Sidney, "I'm the me I chose to be," or a more reflective one? How would you answer that question today? Do you think that who you are as a child is a pure representation of your true self? Or do you think that people can truly change at the core as they grow up?
17. In the last chapter, Sidney deals with the devastating loss of a friend to prostate cancer—the same cancer Sidney had battled against and beat. Have you ever lost someone close to you? How did you deal with your grief? What helped you heal?
18. Sidney Poitier has long been a Hollywood legend admired by many, yet in The Measure of a Man he honestly shares his faults as well as his strengths, his struggles as well as his successes. He writes in his Introduction: "Many years ago I wrote a book about my life, which was, necessarily, in large part a book about my life in Hollywood. More recently I decided that I wanted to write a book about life. Just life itself. What I've learned by living more than seventy years of it." By the end of the book, how do you feel about the man Sidney Poitier? How has your impression of him changed? How has reading his life story touched your life?
Think you know Sidney Poitier? Take our quiz!