I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way to the answers.
Live the questions now… and someday live your way to the answers.
This is such a perfect piece of wisdom. Perfect for anyone struggling through times of sadness or loss. But perfect too for those of us racing through this ever-changing life caught in one incessant transition and bent on pinning it down.
And I’m so bad at living the questions.
As much as I celebrate the ideas of patient mindfulness and wonder, I encounter questions with an intensely bull-headed belief that I can answer them. I react to ambiguous challenges and unknown horizons as if they are gaps in a puzzle, as if I simply need to search for the proper piece. As if completing the picture, answering the questions, and winning life depends solely on cleverness and speed.
This compulsion leads me to snatch answers too urgently, wedging them into the gap of a question even when the pieces do not precisely fit.
We all live a life of questions, to varying degrees. I would say parents parents face these questions more than most.
We continuously stand upon a threshold between one phase and the next, wondering what’s on the horizon. Wondering what’s required of us. What do I need to do to prepare my child for the next phase? Or to prepare myself? What balance should I strike between learning, work and family time and social fun, or personal growth and parental responsibilities? As the kids grow older and need me less, where should I be spending my energies?
If we approached these questions, like I sometimes do, as a puzzle whose pieces I already possess, am I denying myself the opportunity to discover the correct ones, to live my way to the answers? Not only am I cutting myself off from a better answer, but I’m preventing myself from learning.
So this is a new resolution, a new habit to practice: nurturing patience enough to live with the questions.
I’ll view the questions in this jumbled,family-filled life of mine as a mountainous horizon instead, shrouded in cloud cover. And I’ll live my way to the summit.
On a lighter note, here are three fantastic questions (no answers required) that arose this week.
When I was in your tummy with Maya and Elliot, did we have fun? (Max, clearly)
Did I miss Maya in your tummy when she left to be born? (Max again)
Did you like having such a good boy baby? (Max)
Do fifth graders date? (Maya, clearly)