Finding the right answer, or even the best answer, was rewarded when I went to school. Admittedly, that was a long time ago. I’ve spent the rest of my life learning how to ask questions. Answers can be satisfying (giving and receiving) – in the same way that sugar is satisfying. They provide fleeting satisfaction, whereas questions can linger for years. Good questions, probing questions, questions that challenge, even scare us, can nourish us for a lifetime.
I’m spending some time in Oxford and Cambridge – places that are infused with questions. There seems to be a right of passage, from studying, exams (getting the right answers), graduating, celebrating (there’s a lot of that going on right now) and then some enter research. Researching in science and the humanities, asking unanswerable questions, looking for answers anyway, surfacing new questions. Insights, even some answers, seem to emerge from curiosity and operating at the edge, looking for, or more likely, stumbling across, intersections between disciplines.
“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world…they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind.”
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