Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When is a Question more important than an Answer?

Who am I?, Lanikai, Oahu, HI, 2/1/15, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 300mm, 1/250 sec @ f5.6, ISO 640, -0.67 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Once upon a time, I went through a mid-life crisis.  It was the good kind, not the red corvette and trophy blond kind ;-)

During those tumultuous-but-introspective days, a group emerged, somewhat as a parody of my state of mind, called "The Seekers".  It was pretty normal for every group gathering to end up discussing some of my "urgent" questions.  Who, what, where is God?  Is there a personified God?  Which religion has the Truth?  Etc.  While I may have made the gatherings somewhat stimulating, I know I also challenged a lot of deeply-held beliefs, and that is not the best way to win friends or influence people ;-)

I also read -- a lot.  And I was quite inspired by all of this.  To the point of having brief glimpses of what some might call "the divine", "satori", or the "true self".  I wrote about them on this and some of my other blogs.  But emphasis on the world "brief".  Good news:  I knew (aka experienced) that there was something there.  Bad news:  easy to lose that state, and hard to get it back.

But the end result of this wondrous 10 years or so was that I had in fact "found my answers".  I was no longer a "Seeker".  When you feel you understand the "Truth", or at least believe you have an understanding of its fundamental nature, so much of our religiosity and consumerism and modernity becomes clear as nothing more than a side-show spectacle.  So it is pretty easy to drop.

But another thing happened on the way to understanding ... I lost my voice ... my creative muse.  Where the heck did it go?  And why?  Well today I was reminded of the answer to those questions.  Which is somewhat ironic, as the real answer is the title of this blog post -- "When is a Question more important than an Answer?"  When you are looking for the meaning of life.

Meaning -- at least for me -- will not come by finding answers, but by remaining open to the great mysteries and eternal questions.  Not by understanding the evolutionary purpose of our biological life, true as that may be.  Meaning for me, will come I now realize, by continuing to delve deeply into the inner life -- my inner life. 

Recently, I made a significant decision to retire from the one and only company I have worked for my entire adult life -- 37+ years with one firm.  Pretty unheard of these days.  But October 3rd will be my last official work day.  While day-to-day activities will continue to demand much of my time, I've now realized just how essential it will be to dedicate as much quality time as I can to asking Questions.

And to what end?  I don't know, for sure.  And that, my friends, is a part of this adventure we call Life.  Anyone wish to rejoin "The Seekers"?  Everyone is welcome.  The goal is not so much to challenge, as it is to be open -- to new questions, new insights, new experiences, and to uncertainty.  I can think of nothing better to spend my "retirement years" on.  Oh yeah, and having some fun all along the way.  Welcome home, I say.

Oh one more thing.  It was this interview with Jacob Needleman (for whatever reason) that inspired me to think these sorts of thoughts again.  That's probably more a reflection of my state of mind, than this interview per se, but who knows -- it might be helpful for someone else as well.  Enjoy, if you are so inclined.


Chantel Pederson said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. :D It made me reflect back to when I had started my blog years ago and when I stopped. Congratulations on the retirement! Wow, 37 years with one company!

Freedom_Unbound said...

Hi Steve,

This posting made me think about certain questions that are like companions throughout our lives. Most of us I think have a few of these questions that are like precious life-long friends. Questions that we keep indefinitely because they move into our hearts, and reside there. We never answer these question-companions in any final way, but we do answer them, continuously as we move through our lives. The answers change, get revised, evolve, and get changed again, because these questions are alive, and we meet them almost daily. These question-companions keep us reminded of the mysteries that we never solve, but are continuously solving.

All this talk about questions reminds me of a Rumi poem. Here it is, along with a video containing a great reading of it by great Rumi scholar, Coleman Barks...

Here on this blog:

Joe H.

Steven Crisp said...


Thanks for your comment. Maybe one day you will be inspired to restart Honeybee as well. I always enjoyed reading your posts -- as a kindred spirit.


Thanks much for you comment and insights too. Who knew you had a blog? I like your idea of the question companion, and think that does reflect what is going on with me at this time. And after reading some of your blog, I noticed this quote by Francis Bacon:

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake…"

I plan to follow that lead ...

Freedom_Unbound said...

Hi Steve, congrats on retirement. Hope to see in your future blog posts more about which questions you are interested in these days. One more thing, that is not my blog, that is just a secret place where I put ideas so they don't get lost while I am banging my heart and mind against them.
Take care, Joe

Pat said...

Welcome back to the world of thoughtful written words. Retirement has been, and continues to be, the best of life. Now, with more ease, I can consider the adventures I've already taken and tease out the treasures still embedded in the memories; and best of all, be open to new adventures, both inner and outer. Hmmm, and as soon as I said that, I thought of a rich life being like the ultimate belly button; both an innie and an outie.

Steven Crisp said...

Hi Pat,

Glad to hear I made the right call about retirement ;-)

Yes balancing between inner and outer sounds like a good way to be both in and of the world. And not to totally annoy one's partner ;-)

As for the belly button metaphor, I wonder if it is any reflection of the state of my deep inner self, that my first thought was about bb lint ;-)

It's time to bring a little air and light to that inner bb, er, life, maybe get into shape and make the repository for lint a little smaller, retire from the work-force and rejoin the life-force!

Thanks for your visit and comments, as always.

Alli said...

Hey Dad! Great to see you blogging again!! Sorry it has taken me so long to find my way to your post but I enjoyed reading it as always. You have such an eloquent yet easily understood way of putting your thoughts. I hope that my own journey with the Questions can lead us both to some exciting discussions and insights. I am so happy that you are able to finally retire and wish you nothing but health and wellness during your next 50 years ;) Love you!

Steven Crisp said...

Hi Alli!

Perhaps a little early to say I am blogging yet. But I'm pretty confident I will get there. And thank you for the gentle push to at least get this post out there into the blogosphere ;-)

You are my kindred soulful spirit. May we explore this great mystery called life, and share our insights, instincts, and intuitions which each other. I suspect that will help us both grow our confidence with what we can know, and our comfort with what we do not yet understand. Let's hear it for Questions!

Thanks for the well-wishes on retirement. It should help keep life interesting, I'll say that ;-)

Love you too Alli, and thanks for the visit.