Living the Questions

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Ok. The holidays are officially over. How do you feel? I’m not sure about you, but the holidays always magnify whatever I am already feeling. They have a magical way of intensifying my preexisting feelings. This holiday was particularly challenging for me. I’ve been in LA about 8 months now, and unfortunately, I left California with several unanswered questions. And what happens when you see your family for the first time after moving across the country? Questions. Questions happen.


Don’t get me wrong, I love my extended family, and I love that they care enough to ask how I’m doing. But at the time I went home, the last thing I wanted to talk about was myself. Here’s the scoop . . .


Living in LA has been much more challenging than living in Chicago. My rent is significantly higher, substitute teaching pays significantly less, my insurance is higher, and now I have car payments. Furthermore, my roommate has accepted a job in another state and leaves mid-January. Right before I left for Chicago, I had started to look for a new roommate, and I had also had an interview to be a property manager, which would give me a free apartment along with a stipend. It’s a job that would solve many of my problems and answer all of my current questions. As you can see, when I left LA, I also left an immense amount of questions left unanswered. For these reasons along with a few I won’t get into, the month leading to Christmas was the most stressful since my move out west, and the last question I wanted to answer was, “How’s LA?!”


Isn’t my life hard? I have the luxury of following my dreams, and I have a family that cares enough to ask about it. Stick with me, here . . .


While this is a luxurious problem to have, perhaps you’ve been there too. Perhaps there has been a time in your life where you just need the answers! I need these answers so I can plan. Right?!


It’s really hard for me to provide a solution to this one when Rainer Maria Rilke does it so eloquently in his book, Letters to a Young Poet:


You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that — but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself.


Let’s break this down:


  1. Have questions. Do you have questions? It means you’re alive. It means you’re discovering, exploring, and growing. That’s awesome.
  2. Love those questions. How can we do this? Treat them like locked rooms. Do not knock down doors! Instead, go through the doors that are open for you. When you do this, and when you really look around, you begin to appreciate the hallways through open doors.
  3. Live everything. Stay present. Practice mindfulness. I’ve written countless blogs about this point, and it’s because we need countless reminders.


I recently had coffee with a friend who, when I explained the unrest in most aspects of my life right now, said, “You are so full of life. You are asking a lot of questions, and that’s all very exciting!” Of course I don’t see it this way at the moment, but I do love her outlook.


Hindsight is a tricky thing, isn’t it? Can we see the bigger picture when we are so focused on seeking the answers? They say you’ll look back on your life and start to piece together why things are the way they are. They say, “Everything happens for a reason.” Again, it’s hindsight.


I wonder, if I live the way Rilke urges his young poet to live, perhaps I won’t so desperately cling to the urge to find the answers. Perhaps, instead, and with faith, I will trust in the big picture without seeing it.


Your turn! Do you struggle with staying present and having faith? What do you do? I’d love your input! Find me on Twitter or Facebook.