Answers

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

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

 

questions

 

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