Part of teaching is helping students learn how to tolerate ambiguity, consider possibilities, and ask questions that are unanswerable.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot




And what would they be…the unanswerable questions…

We ask them all the time. Naively. Believing answers are forthcoming. Nice, neat, tidy answer boxes we can check off…putting our minds at ease.

Humans need explanations. Logical reasons for behaviors…and difficult situations. Doubt disturbs the equilibrium we crave.

Children’s why questions…usually answerable…

Why do I need to wash my hands?
Why can’t I touch the stove…run into the street?

Until they’re not…

Why are those kids so mean?
How come grandpa had to die?

As time passes, the answers thin out. They don’t cut it.
We see through them. The holes.  The exceptions. The weaknesses. The path to newer questions. Black and white fading to gray.

In the end…sometimes no answers. Not really. We’ve lived too long to settle. We know better. But still…not why.

Why is she sick with cancer and I’m not?
Why can’t the doctors figure out what is wrong with me?

Shifting realities pose more questions than answers.
Humans don’t fit neatly into a category of reasons why.
Too much mystery. Too many unknowns. Intangibles.
Questions expand. And filter down to the universal…

What is life?
Why am I here?
What happens when I’m not?


I took a class in college – my one and only Philosophy course – entitled “Explanation” – and was immediately lost in a sea of questions. The professor with his PhD paced back and forth in front of rows of earnest young students like myself.  Trying to absorb his explanations of deep philosophical questions and answers. The existential questions of…life? To me…it might as well have been another language all together. I had no answers for him that I understood, but I offered them anyway on exams….and assigned papers. Fortunately the answers were good enough. To earn a B in the class.
I wonder how it would go if I were taking that class now….



This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #39: Unanswerable

Quote of the Day…

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

Zora Neale Hurston


So what will this year bring?
or answers.

It seems to me that I still have questions left in the queue…
from decades of living.
Still scratching away looking for answers.
To the why.

Questions that have diverted…
And led me down new paths…
Or retraced old ones.
Piling hopes upon hopes
Continuing, still, to persevere…

I was often admonished in the classroom for asking too many questions.
Ever curious, my hand shot into the air asking for clarification.
All the time. Quietly. Waiting my turn.
Which sometimes didn’t matter…
My 9th grade Spanish teacher, Señora M., did not appreciate my curiosity…about how to translate verbs, why the feminine or masculine was used. Why anything.
Stop asking so many questions! she finally instructed. In front of everyone.
After a while I kept my hand down.

My high school English teacher encouraged questions. For the 3 years I was a student in his class. Blessings to you Mr. Marston.
Lucky for me he answered every one. Including the correct usage of it’s and its. “A lot is a piece of land” he’d repeat over and over; cringing at the use of alot of this and alot of that in our weekly theme assignments.
(auto correct doesn’t like it either. He would have been pleased).

I apologize across the universe to him that I still resort to alot…but not alot very often. I remain grateful for his patience. And assuring me…yes I would be safe at college after Kent State. And yes, I was smart enough to succeed. He nudged me down that road. In the direction I needed to go…all those years ago. Answering my questions.

Maybe I am finally winding down with all the questions.
Perhaps 2019 will be the year of answers…
And new destinations…
if I pay attention.

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This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #31: Destination