08 November 2010

Life Questions

I once read a book called If It’s Going to Be It’s up to Me by Robert Schuller.  He starts his introduction out in a very interesting way, with over a page of questions.  And they’re good questions that got me thinking about some very important things.  Questions like, “Where are you headed?” and “What are your hopes and what are your hurts?” and “Your emotions–are they your friends?  Or foes?”  As I read through the list, I could feel my mind starting to work on some of the questions almost immediately, and I recognized some good topics that it would do me well to focus on for a bit.

When I think of the best teachers I’ve had, I realize that the best ones for me were the ones that asked the best questions.  I realize that the important changes in my life have come when I’ve asked myself questions such as, “Do I really want to be doing this for a very long time?”  Whenever we ask a question, there’s an answer implied in it somewhere, and as long as we’re honest in our question-asking–and we don’t ask questions that already have our own desired answers as part of them–then we can make a great impact on our lives by learning to ask ourselves really, really good questions.

Rainer Maria Rilke said that we must learn to love the questions themselves.  In his Letters to a Young Poet, he writes, “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 into the answer.”

I want to ask myself the good questions, not the ones with judgment built into them, not the ones that point fingers or imply wrong or that are leading or misleading.  Because I know that in my life, one of my greatest strengths is pondering questions and coming up with several different answers for each question.  And I can choose among the answers to find the ones that are most likely to contribute greatly to my happiness, my peace of mind, and my joy.  It’s important for me always to find questions that I love, and then live them.

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