Keep Asking Questions
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I always thought that becoming an adult would mean gaining answers to many hypothetical questions that I had at the time - such as – How to be an accomplished professional woman and earn people’s respect? – How to form lasting relationships? – How to be in a relationship? – How to deal with my mother? – How to accept things for what they are, trying not to change them or expect better outcome where it may never occur? – and many others.
I was convinced that after becoming an adult or old (and old was perhaps the age of forty in my then young mind), I would gain this wisdom that would guide me through life. I would have this invisible adult-crown-of-knowledge, and my children would fear this crown, other young people would respect it, and I would live in peace knowing that there is this secret I learned - A secret that I must carry forth and pass it on to the new generations. It was presumptuous of me, when I look back now, to think that all the life’s secrets were so effortlessly obtained.
Now that I am officially considered an adult – I am married, have a job and a couple of kids who depend on me - closer to the age of forty than thirty- I do not feel old at all - as my young-self hypothesized I would feel. I also realize that I have fewer answers and more questions. I question everything around me. I have metaphysical questions, and I have mundane questions – What groceries should I buy today? – Is this organic or are there chemicals in it? – Does it cause cancer? – What is the meaning of life? - Am I going to damage my children for life if they play without me for an hour while I just sit in the bathroom, trying to be alone with my thoughts, because that is a rarity these days? – All of these questions buzz through my head as if they are on a busy highway. This questioning in my head happens every day, all day long. So much so, that in the moments when I run or when I watch the sun color the sky purple and orange in the evenings, when my thoughts drift away, and I imagine a lake, a glassy surface, no ripples, a chair, a glass of wine and a book, I am momentarily lost. My mind is not used to such stillness.
I sometimes wonder if it all matters. If I stopped asking these questions would the outcome still be the same - and then I read the news. My husband says it’s a big mistake of mine, reading the news every day and pondering over the world events, decisions of the politicians and wondering about the games played that us, ordinary folk, do not understand.
Are we heading into a new war? – What do Syrians really think? - Why is the concern for our environment considered a liberal issue? Shouldn’t this be a concern for everyone living on this planet? - Why is there poverty in the world? – Why do people still practice religion? – How to make and keep friends? – What is the meaning of life? – How to deal with my mother? – The list only becomes longer. It’s on repeat.
I am not closer to gaining any answers and my anxiety increases. No one tells you when you are young that being an adult is a perpetual exercise in worrying and wondering about what each next day is going to bring. No one tells you that relationships become more intricate and that there are no real answers, but more sub-plots, theories, and conjectures, which are, of course, very hard to prove or understand.
I want to fight each and every single fight every day, day after day. I worry about children across the world and about the wars that are senseless and only bring destruction and death for everyone. I worry about everything. Each minute someone somewhere loses a child - a mom whose son is in the army defending a notion of freedom - a mother in Africa so poor that her son passes away from hunger in her arms - a mother in Syria whose daughter is playing on the street and a bomb falls near by. Somewhere there is someone who loses a friend over harshly spoken words. Somewhere a religion gains a follower, believing in the unknown because the known seems so preposterous. Somewhere a person dies of cancer. Somewhere a child grows up to be a wounded person because his parents lost interest by the time he got to be two years old.
In the end, I am an adult with more questions than answers and with far more anxiety than I thought an adult could ever have. It is a heavy burden. What should one do? I reflect on this every day. I look outside my window in the early hours of the morning before the household is awake. I see the sun color the sky purple and orange. I have this occasional stillness inside of me. It does not last long. In those moments I realize that I cannot ignore the world and the worries. They are around me, and they are important. Change does not come from having no questions. Change comes from questioning everything, occasionally forcing our souls to be still to recharge. Change comes from continuing on the path of putting the puzzle together, even though the puzzle is too large for our lives and it will always have pieces scattered around, waiting for someone to find them and bring them back to form the big picture.
So, keep asking questions adults.