There are no answers

Posted by on May 22, 2014

There are no answers. But that doesn’t stop me from asking a ton of questions.

It drives my husband crazy, and my daughter bananas. Sometimes I explain that it comes from my work and training as an oral historian.  Sometimes I suggest that it is because I love them, or am interested, or perhaps can help.

And sometimes it is because I truly don’t know if I want a glass of wine until I know if you want one too.

My patient yoga teachers also notice that I ask a lot of questions. They tell me that they love it. (Apparently said questions are usually reasonably thoughtful and don’t imply that I simply wasn’t paying attention.)  I am grateful, but don’t always believe them.

Last November, I wrote here and with conviction, about how I was learning to be okay with the many unknowable aspects of our unfolding lives. Today I am not so sure.  Although I would like to believe that my questioning nature is just a manifestation of goodness, curiosity and love, occasionally  it can feel like an un-fillable quest for solidity.  I think the Buddha would agree. Apparently the Buddha believed that many questions (the exact number is in dispute) cannot be answered, and when we recognize that we can learn to stop tangling ourselves in a web of unnecessary speculation and suffering.

Some of the questions on which the Buddha chose to remain silent are the really big ones like, Is there a self? Or, What about reincarnation?  He didn’t necessarily even consider, “Should I practice yoga if I have a cold?” This question arrived in my Inbox last night from a very dear student. Hmmm, I thought…there is a question without an answer. There is so much that is unknowable.  (I did, by the way, answer her, but that is a subject for another post.)

My own questions lately have been centered around a Yoga Retreat that I am co-planning for next winter. (And YES, you absolutely should come.)  Each time I write to the Retreat Center with yet another question, I receive a warm and generous reply that does just about everything but answer my question. The issue is part cultural and part language, and there is pretty much nothing I can do. Often, just as I consider getting frustrated or agitated, I get a message from my retreat partner in response to the very same email — she sends smiley faces or writes, “Hysterical.”  It reminds me to laugh at myself and so many of the predicaments I find myself in.

Ultimately, I think we have a choice, and that choice is to either approach our bodies, our minds and our whole crazy lives as an adventure, or as a minefield. Not knowing can sometimes bring us to a standstill. Suddenly, we are too worried to move.   But when we soften our grip, even slightly, we can begin again to walk this good earth with ease.

 

 

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