Maybe the reason for this restlessness is my birthday. Often such milestones have been times of reflection, resulting in new ideas, or a project that fills me with renewed passion and excitement. At 65, I began this blog, for instance, after much reflection and visioning. Creating this art piece helped me make that decision.
|Self portrait at 65|
|Self Portrait at 66: no spring chicken, but still dancing.|
Instead, I have questions, many questions, about my life thus far, about blogging and art, about relationships and living life and growing spiritually. I have questions about the sorry state of our earth and wonder what I should be doing. Or is it too late? And what about politics and religion and truth and all those horrific stories on the news begging for action? Where should my energies go at this stage in my life? On and on and on, new questions around every corner. I want answers, and I want them now, but nothing's happening. No booming voice or tiny whisper, no finger pointing me in the direction I should go.
So I turn to my good and trusty friend Google, who often has deep wisdom to share with questors. And there I find Parker Palmer’s January 1 blog for the program On Being (http://www.onbeing.org/blog/five-questions-for-crossing-the-threshold/7167). He quotes a poem by Anne Hillman:
“We look with uncertainty
beyond the old choices for
clear-cut answers ...
We stand at a new doorway,
awaiting that which comes…”
Yes! Exactly. But Palmer doesn’t tell me how to find the answers, either. Instead, he points me to another quote, this time by poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who wrote this in a letter to a young poet:
…I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Really? LOVE the questions, with all the attending uncertainty and antsiness and restlessness? And what does that even mean, to LIVE the questions?
I puzzle and ponder on these words, and this is what I came up with. Love the questions, because questions are signs of growth. Love the questions because they are like locked rooms which you want to get into, so you dig deep and search hard for the key. In so doing you will find purpose in your life. Love the questions that are like books written in a foreign language – if you love those questions, you’ll put in the effort to learn the language that will reveal what the books say. And in so doing, I realize, I will be living the questions, and they will lead me to the answers. Or maybe not. Perhaps the answers aren't important; it’s all about the questions.
I wish I could say this pondering and these explanations bring relief from the antsiness. Alas, not so. Just because I accept that questions are good things, that restlessness is a process I will have to live through, doesn't mean I like it! I still need to learn to love the questions. I can see change coming down the road, but I don't see its shape or form. I don't like that. But then again, it's not all about me, is it?
Says Parker Palmer, “We look with uncertainty to the year ahead. But if we wrap our lives around life-giving questions — and live our way into their answers a bit more every day — the better world we want and need is more likely to come into being.” Thank you, sir, I needed that.
I was going to share my latest art creation with you, a self-portrait at 67. Sorry, it’s not finished. I’m not ready to finish it, either, because I am living the questions, and I realize the questions are an important part of the portrait. There’s me, the white crow (I’m no longer dipping into the hair dye pot these days) and I’m flying with threads that I want to add to the tapestry that is the world. But which threads? And where do I lay them down? And ... oh, more questions.
Instead, I leave you with this photo I found on the internet. The child reminds me that there is great joy to be found in the quest if we but look for it. Perhaps I will learn to love the questions, and live them. At any rate, I’m thankful to be rolling on into the future, still questioning. You too?