Honor the Questions

by Starla J. King on January 30, 2014

Until recently, I’ve asked myself questions only in hopes of getting to answers;  the questions themselves were just a way to maybe get to something else. 

Sure, I’d read the familiar Rilke quote (see below) about living the questions, but I didn’t quite get it.  Until, I think, this morning.

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

This morning I had an unusually strong need to get to my journal, but it wasn’t for my standard purpose of emptying out my thoughts with the hopes that the resulting internal space would leave enough room for answers to show up.   No, this morning I just needed — almost desperately — to ask questions.

So I did.  I wrote a page full of questions.  Only questions.  No answers.  No narrative between the questions.  Just question after question after question:

questions in journal

And when I lifted my pen, I felt full (in the best sort of way), and empty (in the best sort of way), both at the same time.

Full of courage, having dared to face the uncertainty of the questions.

Empty of the need to figure it all out RIGHT NOW.

And somehow absolutely, utterly, completely at peace (and still holding, 8 hours later).

I’m not quite sure what magic happened there, but I do know that today all I needed was the questions. 

Maybe it really is true, that when we most think we need answers (and need them NOW), that honoring the questions themselves is the answer??  

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Kouvas January 30, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Beautiful post. I was introduced to the concept of being more interested in the question than the answer a couple years ago…still working on that. Thank you for this beautiful piece on the subject!

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Starla J. King January 31, 2014 at 10:05 am

Thank you, Erin! I hear you on the “still working on that” piece — which is why it was so cool to experience the magic of somehow having the questions themselves be enough. If you get a chance to try the “write a page of questions” exercise, I’d love to hear how it goes!

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marybeth gregg January 31, 2014 at 1:49 pm

This goes right to the heart in many ways. We are always racing for the end and forget about the beginnings. Thank you again for your inspiration.

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Starla J. King January 31, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Oh, really good point there, Mb! The richness in beginnings, in the here and now. YES.

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