The Answer To All Your Questions Ever

It’s very interesting if you pay attention, how much humans crave and chase the problem-solution, black and white, fits-in-a-box scenarios. Most systems are built this way, filled with “never”s and “always”s. We are quick to classify something as “good” or “bad,” and we rarely want to “feel” our way through something. Just give us the answers, the how-to, and we’ll do it. Thanks to Google and Alexa, we barely ever have to live with unresolved questions, and our education system hinges on the “right” and “wrong” ways of thinking and responding.

While I feel very fortunate to have access to an infinite flux of information and resources, and some days I am happy to just show up and check the boxes, deep down I feel sort of cheated: cheated from the experience of truly not knowing and having to seek alternative routes. You geezers from the “Land Before GPS and Cell Phones” are probably rotary-dialing back to “the good ole days” when “you couldn’t just look it up on the Google!” 

I envy you, in some ways, because I feel like I am getting progressively worse at saying, and accepting, “I don’t know.” 

This craving for a black and white, clear-cut, boxed-up sort of world is almost child-like. If you spend enough time around children, you will bear witness to their beautiful curiosity and proneness to asking, “why?” 

The thing is, they continue asking why until it’s resolved. I praise their curiosity, but I wonder if the adult on the answering end has ever considered teaching the questioning child that “I don’t know” or “That’s just the way life is” are both acceptable answers. 

Please don’t get it twisted and think I’m advocating just giving up and letting ignorance prevail, because I’m not. I’m simply talking about the big things in life that we keep on trying to figure out instead of leaning into. I’m not suggesting we get better at throwing up the white flag. I’m suggesting we redefine winning, losing and surrendering. 

Perhaps not every question has to have an answer, not every person/thing is meant to be understood, and some things serve as merely scratching posts and not obstacles to break down. We’re meant to continuously rub up against these questions and wrestle with these confusions, and not to obliterate them and move on. Perhaps this wrestle is closer to winning than it is to surrendering. 

This wrestle naturally makes us quite restless, though. Picture someone searching for anything they’re looking for, either physical or not. It is rarely a calm pursuit. We’re fidgety, frantic, scatter-brained. We’re turning things over and flipping things inside out. Eventually, we have pushed away people in our search for THE ANSWER. 

We could try to combat the restlessness and remain calm, but that might remove some of the magnitude of importance behind what we’re seeking. We could, instead, simply learn to rest in the restlessness. We could accept “I don’t know” as an answer. We could see the pursuit as the answer. 

Not everything will get wrapped up nicely in a box with a bow. Not everything will make sense or even fall nicely on either side of the lines we’ve drawn. I think it’s all much more gray than we’re comfortable with, and I think that’s precisely the point.