Wednesday, February 20, 2008


As a person who asks many questions, not necessarily to others, I've found that there's a whole bunch of categories as far as questions go. Here's my little classification:

1. I'd-rather-nots: Questions that you ask but don't really want an answer to.
Banal: You're looking at yourself in the mirror preening away when you realise you've put on a few kilos you could've done without. So you suck your tummy in and ask, "Have I put on weight?" *Sound of the wrong answer buzzer* I'd rather not know.
Not-so-banal: You've screwed up at home with your sibling/parent/spouse and you go, "What did I do?" *Sound of the wrong answer buzzer* You DON'T want to go down that road!

2. Answerables: These questions can be of four types, a) easy to answer and pleasant, b) easy to answer and unpleasant, c) not easy to answer and pleasant OR, d) the worst one of them all, not easy to answer AND unpleasant a.k.a. the double whammy.
Banal: So where are we going to dinner? Type a or c OR depending on who you're with, a type b!
Not-so-banal: Does s/he like me? I'd rate this as type c and a potentially type d question.

3. Unanswerables: I find these questions the most intriguing. They're the kind of questions that creep up on you when you're staring into nothingness at the airport terminal or sitting by the ocean watching the waves crash onto the rocks. Most often, there are no answers. There are no banal examples in my opinion so we'll do the examples a bit differently here.
Relatively less not-so-banal: You've just graduated from college with a degree in Philosophy. What do I do with my life now? How do I plan to spend the rest of my life constructively... or not? Making ends meet kind of stuff.
Relatively more not-so-banal: Is this how it was meant to be?

I don't know what it is about the unanswerables that catches my fancy. Maybe I'm not constructively occupied enough. I don't know. They can be real monsters. Consume you. Drive you to every nook and cranny of your little mind. They make you scan your experiences, scan others' experiences, observe yourself, observe others. Maybe more. But the answers just aren't there.

I find that most of life's BIG questions have no real concrete answers. What is the purpose of life? Is there a purpose? What is its meaning? Or why should there be any meaning to it? Why can't I go through life like a journey? Possibly a journey to nowhere in particular? Why should I be judged on what I have achieved? Why can't I go through life enjoying what I have instead of always looking for what I don't have?

There are no easy answers to these. I don't mean answers like "You're real purpose is to find your true Self." or "You must have a goal to give your life meaning." Things like that just don't cut ice with me anymore. Can you define this true Self? And what happens once I realise my goal? Does my life have no meaning beyond that? Or do I have to go looking for meaning at 54 once I have realised my goal? Give me a break.

You know what the fun part about the unanswerables is though? It's that every now and then life will give you these little glimpses of what you think is the answer until you meet another experience that smashes your conclusion until you reach a point where you say to yourself, "Alright, I may not find the answers, but I can keep seeking."

What do you think?
P.S. If you have categories to add, please do! :)

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