During the comment conversation for the Question & Answer post, my friend and I realized what a question and an answer mean to us: anchors to our present and future.
For him, it is the answer that anchors us to the present moment, while the question drags us into a new direction. An answer gives us reassurance, while a question drives un into an unknown territory. I can see it works.
Yet somehow I was thinking that maybe for my case, it is the other way around: the question anchors me to the present, while the answer drives me into the future.
Looking back, I have always been driven by curiosity (question). Or should I say, curiosity has been one thing that never left my side during my highest and lowest moments. For example, during my most severe depression, I was curious about why I was so depressive, and during my happiest moments, I was curious about why I was so happy. If the mighty lord (ha ha) approaches me and allows me to pick one value that will always be with me no matter what, I might pick curiosity and discard fortune, love, happiness, or even liberation.
Therefore, when I have a question, my curiosity is in motion. Even though I might look as if I need an exit with an answer, I am actually playing in the sandbox in my backyard (sort of a womb), happily churning out many theories (answers). During that play, I do think what I do is to look for The answer, not just An answer. But as all “travels” have taught me over and over, it is the path that matters, not the destination. A question is valuable because it allows me to dwell in the safe cocoon of “pondering,” not because it provides me with an eternal salvation.
An answer is just a possibility. Maybe it is right, maybe it is wrong, but it is always a “theory,” not a “solution.” I did take every answer as a “solution” for most of my life—but even then, I secretly wasn’t sure if my answer “solved” things fundamentally. For me, the happiest moment always remained in the “searching for an answer” phase—which was energized by the question that always remained at the center.
Of course, I did not realize that mechanism at all, which often (okay, mostly) lead to the tragedy of following my answer for too long and disconnecting myself from the original question. Believing that the “solution” would solve, or even salvage, my life, I clinged on to the seemingly perfect answer, trying to live my life according to that “truth,” which was just a hypothesis. Instead of treating a hypothesis as a hypothesis, I converted it into a dogma that I needed to protect and worship.
Therefore, after several months of rigorous answer-following steps, I would be left disillusioned, disgruntled, and disappointed, literally “dis-“ing every element in my world.
And then I would return to my forgiving “question,” as if a frivolous young person returns to his/her reliable friend-zone people before heading out for another fantasy. I examine the question, finds another hypothesis, quickly say Adios to my “old” framework including that very question, only to head straight back another several months later.
Enough, isn’t it?
An “answer” has always been just a hypothesis to me, which I never realized. I tried it out, lived with it for as long as I could, but I should have never confused it with the center of my being. Following the direction of an “answer” I broaden my world, meet new people, experience new worlds, clarify who I am. That feels great. Yet after a while I head back defeated, trying to convince me that my “answer” was useless, even discounting the great discoveries as nothing.
My answers were never useless. No matter what, they always worked as an engine to drive my lazy ass out of my comfort zone. My mistake—or my ignorance—was treating them beyond what they were: hypothesis. What I needed to do was to carry my question all along with me, enjoy the new scenery of life as our joyful “answer” guide too eagerly shows us around, yet keep the direction in check by continuously communicating with my question.
I have questions, many questions, and I hope I would be able to play with them for as long as I can. I hold a hypothesis, play with it, and then will check with the question. As long as I hold my curiosity—question—firmly (but not clinging onto it), I can continue to enjoy this life.