One of the ways I cope with my five-day-a-week cubicle incarceration is by listening to a lot interviews with author’s whose work I greatly appreciate and admire. Day in and day out this proves to be an effective strategy for a variety of reasons. It insures that the loudest voice in my head is not only kinder than my own but, that it also has something instructive, valuable, and insightful to say, rather than the garbled dance party of disappointment and self-loathing that usually plays on repeat in my head throughout the day. Even though its a catchy tune with an infectious beat, and a good groove one should try to take a break from the lovable low self-esteem playlist from time to time, at least as a palette cleanser. However, my earbud escapades not only shelter me from the shit-storm of inner-world, they also provide me with protection from the outer-world. David Sedaris says that “when you’re wearing [headphones]…The outside world suddenly becomes as private as you want it to be.” To say he has a point is an understatement.
The introvert in me welcomes every opportunity to be isolated, but the bill-payer in me recognizes the need to be amongst the masses in order to keep the rent paid. Almost miraculously, my earbuds seem to offer the best of both worlds. I can remain an island while still being in the crowd. I can have all the benefits of being a recluse, without the burden of being shut-in with 37 cats.
During one of my recent self-protective forays into author fueled escapism, I was listening to an interview with Neil Gaiman, and found myself unsurprisingly struck by something he said. He said that “You don’t write with answers. You write with questions…You don’t write necessarily to find out answers. You just write to try and infect other people with your questions.”
I live in the light of infinite questions. I write because I am filled with questions, questions about everything; questions about myself, questions about the world, questions about my place and purpose in it. I am possessed by paradoxes of the past, the uncertainties of the future, and the ambiguities of the present. I write to exorcise the questions. I write to get them out, not so that I can get rid of the questions, or so that the questions can be resolved, but to release more questions into the world and to make room for more questions to born within me.
I have no interest in providing you with answers. I have almost no interest in your answers. I am more interested in your questions. I am more interested in giving you the sacred gift of more questions. When I write, I write with the intensity of the questions in my heart. When I write, I am writing the questions; again and again, over and over, I am writing the questions. I write the question as a means of living the question, a means of living with the question, hoping that you too will be possessed and infected with and by the questions.
Our questions will lead us off the beaten path. They will take us to places of discomfort, places laced with the angst of ambiguity and the anxiety of uncertainty but, they will also lead us to wonder.
We have to embrace the unexpectedness of being swept off. We have to go where our questions take us. We have to watch, observe, attend to and make the things we must. Nothing is irrelevant when you realize that you are not searching for answers but, learning to ask better questions.
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