Inside looking out: The question is the answer
By Rich Strack
Who was it that figured bacon goes with eggs, peanut butter with jelly or that hot dogs complement hamburgers?
Curiosity drives our minds to find answers to questions. Children are praised for wanting to learn, and those in their golden years are encouraged to keep attaining knowledge because it’s healthy for their brains.
So, with endless energy, we search on for life’s unanswered questions, and each day we cross another interrogative sentence off the list.
Let’s imagine if we find answers to those questions that have hammered our thoughts and been the subjects of conversation at many cocktail parties.
Do ghosts exist? Let’s say someone captures a floating spirit and proves to the world, once and for all, that the dead can occupy another bodily form.
Does Bigfoot live? Somebody drags one through the woods and every camera waits to take pictures of the 12-foot-tall hairy creature.
You’re getting my pattern. The Loch Ness monster floats ashore in Scotland. Aliens from Mars are greeted by farmers on a field in Kansas.
Now let’s answer the granddaddy of them all. God makes a physical appearance in a children’s playground somewhere in Texas and the 11 news captures him in full body and spirit.
OK, now what? With these biggies now figured out to our satisfaction, we have to find the answers to new questions of other significance.
What would life be like if all diseases were cured and we lived until 150? What if we could build cities under the ocean or take a vacation to prehistoric Africa?
Technology thinks too much for us. Google any question and you’ll find the answer. Imagination would starve without food for thought. Faith in the unseen would become obsolete. The end of curiosity kills the cat.
I don’t want to know everything and I don’t want you to know either, because then you would tell me. The answer is the question or to turn it around to the question is the answer.
Actor Chris Evans, who played Captain America, said; ”The point is that when I see a sunset or a waterfall or something, for a split second it’s so great, because for a little bit I’m out of my brain, and it’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not trying to figure it out. You know what I mean? And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness.”
I love his words, “I’m out of my brain” and “maintain that mind stillness.” Flip the switch on all thought, detach yourself from the need to know and just feel the extraordinary beauty of nature. No explanation is necessary. Let the question be the final answer.
Tom Hanks once said, “You cannot look up at the night sky on the Planet Earth and not wonder what it’s like to be up there amongst the stars. And I always look up at the moon and see it as the single most romantic place within the cosmos.”
Poet e e cummings wrote, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
“The mystery of life is an unanswered question, but let’s still believe in the dignity and importance of the question,” said playwright Tennessee Williams.
Perhaps the best question of all is still, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”
According to Australian scientific research, the chicken egg was first laid as a genetic mutation from two nonchicken birds. That actually sounds believable and certainly opens up the ideas that many other species might have originated as genetic mutations.
Now I’m thinking that I might be a genetic mutation, possibly born from something inhuman!
Jonathan Pearson, a South Carolina pastor, says, “Questions push us to more. Answers make us think we’re done. Think about it … once we get the answer, we’re done. We’ve discovered it. There’s no need to go further. When we have questions, however, we’re pushed to more, we’re pushed to keep going until we get the answer. It’s in the pushing for more that we learn so much more than just the answer to one question. It’s in pushing for more that we grow and discover the most.
“Questions power humility, answers can end in pride. … If we’re someone that tends to have all the answers or know a bunch of stuff, it can cause pride to grow inside of us. Questions, though keep us humble. As long as there is a burning question in us, we never think we’ve discovered or become it all.
“Questions force camaraderie with others, answers tend to isolate. … Asking questions causes us to seek out other people that we think may have the answer. We build bonds and relationships with these people in order to find our answer. If we have the answer, these relationships and desire to connect slowly disappear … we think we don’t need other people.”
When I taught philosophy in high school, I would tell my students that this class is about questions with no right answers. One student raised his hand and asked, “I can get all the answers wrong and still get an A?”
I replied, “Sure, as long as you ask the right questions.”
Rich Strack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.