Living The Questions
May 15, 2018
In between the "whats" & "wheres" that define my life now & the "whats" and "wheres" I want in my future is a gaping void of QUESTIONS. That’s where I’ve been lately. . .
Lost In The Questions
"How?", "When?", & "What exactly?"
Questions about career changes & life changes, purpose & impact, direction & steps.
They stem from my semi-obsessive quest to bridge the gap between where I am & where I ultimately want to be (two very different places). My future career & the big impact I want to make on this world are basically the only things I care about accomplishing in this lifetime. My thoughts kind of revolve around those things & so do my questions. Specifically:
>> How am I gonna change this world?
>> What exactly do I want to change about it?
>> When & how do l change careers?
(because I will not leave this world a better place if my postmortem waitressing career is allowed to drag on much longer... just the opposite)
>> What kind of job am I even looking for next?
>> Why the hell are résumés necessary? They are torture to complete!!!
(with my lack of qualifications, it's like putting lipstick on a pig)
And the big one today—
>> What can I do from here, now, today, to get me closer to the future that I itch for?
That's where my mind has been lately, swimming around in that void of questions.
Its tangly & weedy & frustrating in there. And it gets worse the further in you go & the longer you stay. It's like a place that seems to promise answers if you enter & pursue them but that's really just a well-disguised detour, a mental cul-de-sac.
I didn't realize I'd been tangled in a quagmire of questions until I was inadvertently intervened on by an old poet named Rainer Maria Rilke, whose words serendipitously found their way to me a few months back:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves"... "Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
It was the best advice I could've gotten, delivered by someone long-gone who never even knew me. In 3 short sentences, Rilke had both diagnosed me & supplied a remedy for my own self-created mess, one I wasn't even aware of beforehand.
His enlightening words stuck with me & have been bouncing around my mind ever since. Turns out they needed to stay awhile, they had a couple of lessons to teach me…
I’ve since realized that the frustrating absence of incoming answers about my future wasn't the problem at all. It was my unnecessary search for them that created all the internal friction. I’d been scrounging for new answers, more answers, without realizing I already had all the answers I needed for now.
My pursuit of “more” drowned out my awareness of “enough”.
My search for clarity had actually clouded my mind.
My seemingly harmless hunt for answers was revealed to be a big, fat distraction that became a full-fledged affliction.
I was trying to make sense of far-ahead things before their Divine "sense-making time". I’d dove off the cliff of the present, but couldn’t manage to grab hold of the territory of the future, matter how I grasped for it. And it had landed me in this question-riddled no-man's-land. A messy, self-induced abyss.
Basically, I'd been on a mission to resolve the currently UNresolvable (hence the unproductive search & ensuing frustration). My mistake was my failure to be present with the “whats” & the “wheres” I have now. I was reaching too far ahead, into a place that had no resolution to offer me at this time. And in doing so, I'd overlooked the present answers, which were all I needed in the first place.
In a nutshell, my rabbit-hole-esque search for “more” distracted me from the “enough” I already had. It had me “living in the future”, not the present, & grabbing for something I couldn’t reach & didn't even need.
I didn't need to find what I was looking for, I needed to quit looking for what I was looking for.
I needed to give up the quest for answers, leave them in the future, & learn how to live my way into them organically, one present moment at a time.
I learned that “enough” is greater than “more”.
And I learned that the questions themselves, just as much as the answers, were worthy of my respect & presence.
In just a few sentences, Rilke taught me a lot. But the lessons didn’t end there. When he was done with me, God Himself stepped in to deliver the final punchline, in the form of a 1-word answer. But it wasn’t the kind of answer I’d been hunting, no grand revelation or Aha!-inducer. It was a simple reminder, of an answer I already had but had gotten distracted from.
An Unexpected Answer
"WRITE". That's it.
That's the word God interrupted me with yesterday morning, as I was praying:
God, what I need to do from here, now, today, to get me closer to where I want to be?
"WRITE", He said, before I could even finish the question.
A Divine interruption it was, one that negated the need for any further searching, & also delivered the only answer I needed (& one I already had).
And write I did.
And this time I published it (for the first time in months).
So—thanks to Rilke & The Man Upstairs— with my newfound lessons in tow, I now pick back up the rusty ole blogging crusade, dust off the (perfectly good) answer I already had, & deploy it, here & now, one word at a time…
Living The Questions
And as for the rest of the unanswered questions I’ve been hunting to resolve, here's my new approach: patience & presence.
Being patient & respectful with them. Embracing them in their pre-answer phase. Being present with the questions. Valuing them as what they are now & not what I want them to hurry up & reveal to me.
I’m learning to love the questions themselves as I’m living the questions. I’ve learned that the absence of answers does not mean I’m lost or lacking any information that I actually NEED at this time. And if an answer is unrevealed it’s because it’s still under Divine concealment, & that may be because I’m not actually ready to live that answer just yet.
Bottom line is, we get what we need when we need it, not when we search hard enough for it. And we already have enough to do what God needs us to do right now. It’s really that simple. And I needed that simple reminder. And maybe you do too. So, for anyone out there who’s “lost in the questions” like I was, this one’s for you…
Here's to avoiding tangly, gaping voids of questions & well-disguised distractions.
Here's to abandoning the search for more & embracing the enough-ness of the answers, the you, & the now you already have.
Enjoy the journey of the UNanswered questions.
Live your way into their resolution organically... with patience & presence.
Be here now. Stop searching into the future & start deploying in the present.
Work with what you've got, & leave the unresolved to unfold into the future answers you're already living your way into.