A friend recently asked me, how are you today?
It’s hard question to answer with a nondescript response like fine. That today asks us to go a bit deeper, to be a bit more honest.
And it got me thinking about questions. But even more, why we ask questions and how we receive the answers.
When my adult children call me and I ask how are you, they want to vent. And, unless they are asking for the challah recipe or my advice on which rug fits best in their small but independent living space, they don’t want advice. They don’t want to hear about how I navigated those murky waters when I was their age. Or, about the NY Times article I just read on that exact thing. Or the ten steps to solve whatever it is that they are facing.
Why do we feel compelled to give advice? To solve problems?
Perhaps it has to do with the difficulty of actually being with our felt experience. Or the experience of another. Often, though no always, to feel is to hurt. And who wants to hurt? So, we push through, solve, make sense of. But how often do we listen without judgment?
Some questions can’t be answered. Aren’t meant to be answered. Some pain asks just to be heard, honored. As Jane Hirshfield wrote in “Women in a Red Coat”, Some questions cannot be answered. They become familiar weights in the hand, round stones pulled from the pocket, unyielding and cool. Perhaps questions are like Help Wanted signs: Help wanted, inquire within.
Questions invite us to inquire within, and it is in the inquiry that rich discoveries are made.
How are you, right now?