In the A to Z of Becoming, Q is for Question.
Human beings have an unstoppable curiosity and it appears very, very early. If you have children who are old enough to talk, you’ll probably have encountered the “why?” question. Repeatedly. “Why?” “Because X”. “Why?” Because Y”. “Why?” In fact “Why?” might be THE most common question children ask (just above “Are we there yet?” when they are in a car!)
We never really give up on the why question, do we? We consider our lives and wonder how to live and what purpose there might be to life, and the question why is an important part of that.
But “Why?” isn’t the only question you could be asking. “Who am I?” is another good one, and Marc Halévy stresses “What for?” which is also great for breaking through the walls of unthinkingness. (Is there such a word? There is now!)
Gary Lachman, in “Caretakers of the Cosmos” says
As far as we know, no animal wonders why it exists. Or, to out it another way, we are the only animals that do, and that wonder is precisely the threshold between our being only animals and being fully human. Whoever asked the first question about his existence was, by this reckoning, the first human.
That makes asking questions pretty essential doesn’t it? To be “fully human” we should think about why we exist.
I also like Montaigne’s repeatedly asked question which he puts in his essays – “Que sais-je?” (What do I know?) – that’s a great question to keep you in touch with humility!
I’ve just completed Robert McKee’s four day “Story” seminar today and we did a scene by scene analysis of “Casablanca”. Here’s one of the passages which leapt out at me today.
Rick: Who are you really? What were you before? What did you do? What did you think?
Ilsa: We said “No questions”
Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.
Well, here’s looking at YOU, kid, but I say keep asking questions!
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