There are many faces to volunteerism in our community, so many individuals who quietly make our city so much better, donating their time and efforts to improve our quality of life, and doing so altruistically.
Paul Guido is one of them. He devotes a lot of his private time at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art by being a docent, one of the many volunteer arts teachers ready to educate any and all who visit the State Street institution. As if that wasn’t enough, during the summer, he opens up his home to students from the Music Academy of the West, where he also serves on the board of directors.
A psychologist for the past 30 years, Paul is one of the funniest people you will ever meet — self-deprecating, gregarious — and the most loyal friend anybody could imagine. He’s also very humble and doesn’t like attention directed his way.
But he deserves some celebration for all that he does for Santa Barbara, so we’re lucky he answered the Proust questionnaire.
What do you like most about being a docent?
I love working with such smart people. The docents are smart, organized, and interesting people. Being able to share our love of art with others is really fun.
What is your favorite memory of being a docent?
Touring adults is really fun, but touring children can be amazing. After one third grade tour, I asked the kids what they had liked best about what we had seen. One boy raised his hand and told me he had a newfound perspective on all of the art we had viewed. He then told me about all of the art we had seen and his new perspective. I asked him if he wanted to be a docent and he just smiled.
What is your favorite museum or art collection other than SBMA?
The Metropolitan Museum in New York. It is very accessible, and each wing houses historical things people have made that are beautiful or interesting.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I am a good friend. I really like people, and maintaining friendships is really important to me.
What is your current state of mind?
Contented. Life is easy and simple right now.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having a great meal with friends and then hearing someone play the Bach Cello Suites. It could also be Concerto for Two Violins. Any Bach is perfection. I’m Italian so food, friends, and music are right up there.
What is your greatest fear?
Somewhere between being abandoned, lost, and disoriented. The older I get, the idea of losing my faculties is emerging as a great fear.
Who do you most admire?
No one person comes to mind. I tend to admire people who do things well in all different fields.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying paintings. In the past I didn’t notice that I was a collector, I just bought paintings. Now I think it may be an addiction.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Confidence that is based on real ability. The combination of the two is admirable.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Arrogance and narcissism. Both just cause great stress in those around them, and life is too short for that.
What do you most value in friends?
Loyalty. Nothing better than a friend who will be there for you no matter what is going on.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
The word “great.” I need to find other words that express how much I like things.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to sing beautifully. There is nothing like the human voice to communicate words, feelings, and emotions on a visceral level.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would have more confidence. If I could recognize in myself half the values and gifts that I see in others it would be great. I used the word again.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having had a successful private psychology practice for 30 years. Hopefully I have helped some people along the way.
Where would you most like to live?
No place other than Santa Barbara. I think it is possibly the best place in the world to live.
What is your most treasured possession?
Probably my house. I love living in my house. Usually my most treasured possession is my latest painting purchase. I am in my house staring at my latest painting, and love it.
Who makes you laugh the most?
Life makes me laugh a lot. The daily ironies of being human often make me laugh when I pull back and get a bigger view. Also, my friend Michael makes me laugh a lot. He shares my uncensored view of most things.
What is your motto?
Life is short. With that perspective it helps me see what is really valuable or important.