2014  August 10

Making Questions


This is from a June 05, 2005 post on my original Simplicity blog that a reader found still exists on the Wayback Machine here.

In grade school, we normally assume that if we’ve got a question that our parents can’t answer, we ask our teachers. “Teacher, I have a question ...” At some point in life (usually before junior high school), you realize that the teacher doesn’t have all the answers. Often times you also find that the answer that the teacher gives ... is wrong.

Having answers to everything is an incredible gift. Yet I’m not sure if I know such a person. The smartest people that I’ve ever known seemed to not have any particular abundance of answers, but instead an abundance of questions. Think of the greatest teacher of all -- Yoda. Yoda doesn’t have a single answer in any of the Star Wars movies. He’s always asking questions in response to questions. Which begs me to wonder in the spirit of the chicken and the egg discussion ... who came first: Socrates or Yoda? Google appears to have no answers in this area.

Perhaps because as your age increases, the number of people that can answer your questions decreases in an inverse proportional sense (i.e. your teachers die and you eventually become the teacher) my theory now is that maybe it is a better idea to look for as many answers as possible when you are young. Heck, if there are answers out there, go and get them! There’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t waste time with people that give you questions back from questions you’ve raised, as when you age you’ll have plenty of time (in reality a decreasing amount of it as life is usually finite) to ask yourself questions. Like, what was I doing a second ago that sidetracked me to this place?

  • M. Rodriguez writes, “Many a times, I think the responses fall into one of these attitudes: 1) There are no answers, I’m winging it myself and I don’t really know. 2) You’ll figure it out eventually. 3) I’ll lead you to where you could possibly find the answer. But I really fall into the attitude of like Frank Herbert wrote ‘the mystery of life is not a problem to solve but a reality to experience.’” All the more reason to logout and go outside.
  • Greg Fraser in Switzerland adds, “Actually Google does give an answer. 1. go to 2. enter keywords 3. fight! 4. Socrates wins! Ok, so it doesn’t prove he was first... but... it could.. hmm, now where was i... ?” You are here! And there!

Sometimes the voice from left field can set you right.

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