Last fall, I was traveling with my friend Grace, and we had plenty of time to talk as we drove back to Missouri through the mountains. One thing she brought up for discussion was enduring questions to which we return. I replied that I had perennial questions which had been very useful, but when I began to elaborate, they seemed thin. What questions are worth asking?
Artifacts like personal journals have allowed me to dig back through these questions and my responses. Sometimes inquiries have made their way into song lyrics or blog posts. My broad questions include:
- “Am I loving life today?”
- “Am I living fully?”
- “Am I listening?”
- “What makes you sing?”
This collection of questions has provided intriguing prompts, but it doesn’t always get to the bottom of serious problems that I need to address in my life and community. These questions feel meaningful, but, numerous times, I have avoided probing further.
And this is where conversing and writing merge with the enduring questions I ask myself. Then I can draw out new questions and listen to the ones that others ask me.
I doubt that my act of writing is strong enough to nurture better questions. When I step away from the computer or notebook, I think that I have engaged in indulgent expressions that have further delayed my confrontation of major challenges. But I’m selling short the craft of writing. As Lyanda Lynn Haupt reminds us in her book Crow Planet, writing is a way of seeing.
Three years ago at a local coffee shop, a stranger asked me about my activity with my notebook in between sips of coffee. He wondered if I was a college student or a professional writer. I submitted that I was just writing on my own. I had no institutional impetus (other than the likelihood of certain coffee shops to inspire reading and writing). His countenance was brightened, and he encouraged me to “keep writing”. So that’s what I must do. I hope you do, too.