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When was the last time you considered that a question of yours may not have a single answer? Or that it’s not time for you to have an answer to that question? Or that there may not even be an answer?

WITH ALL OF THE ANSWER-TOUTING MESSAGING AND MEDIA IN OUR WORLD, IT’S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO NOT BELIEVE THAT WE NEED TO HAVE ANSWERS TO EVERYTHING.

We are surrounded by “how to” and “the one thing you need to know” headlines, their very titles suggesting that we will have answers by the time we have read the content (as quickly as possible, please).

It’s no wonder that so much of the populace is plagued by anxiety, depression, insomnia, and substance abuse. How can I possibly get a great job, be a great parent, find a great partner, feel great about myself … if I don’t have great answers? Fear of failure, of not having The Answer, is quickly leading us down the road of disease and dysfunction.

It’s a tragedy to me that answers have eclipsed questions as the most instrumental contributor to our growth and happiness. That the value of questions has gotten all but lost amidst the white noise of 10-steps-to-fix-anything.

There seems to be an implicit implication in much of the world’s propaganda that if we don’t have answers, we will be left behind, eating everyone else’s (successful) dust, suffering because we just didn’t quite ‘get it.’

OUR WORTH HAS BECOME, TO A DEGREE, MEASURED BY HOW MUCH WE KNOW, OUR CERTAINTY ABOUT WHERE WE’RE GOING. OUR ABILITY TO TAME THE UNTAMABLE, TO MEASURE UP, TO ANSWER UP.

And yet we long for just the opposite. To be able to say ‘I don’t know’ and not be judged as being worthless for such a reckless declaration. We crave this, dream about it, complain about why it’s not available to us amidst the hyper-doings of our daily lives.

And then comes the vacation.

Vacations filled with wide open landscapes of mountains and overgrown grass, endless ocean and white sandy beaches, stretches of dirt road and slow-chewing cows, no billboards for miles. Time when we emit a huge sigh of relief and wonder why we can’t always have This. Much. Space.

This is the place where healthy, open-ended questioning comes alive … and thrives.

It’s a place where the mind is allowed to wander and wonder. Where endless to-do lists are nowhere to be seen and taking a nap isn’t labeled as lazy and wasting time. Where all modes of interference to imagination and joyous expression are eliminated, set aside to give us a few hours or days of reprieve from the press of needing to have it all figured out.

IN THIS PLACE, WE BECOME MORE CURIOUS, LESS FEARFUL. THE MIND RELAXES. WE REMEMBER WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO TAKE THE DAY AS IT COMES, RATHER THAN SCHEDULING IT TO THE NANOSECOND, NO ROOM FOR ERROR OR UNEXPECTED OUTCOME.

As we arrive in this state of being rather than doing, we make ourselves available to questions as guides and curiosities to be watched, rather than as task-masters chasing us toward an answer. It becomes more natural, more acceptable, to let questions come and go as they please, the mind freed from unnecessary overload and presumption.

This is when the process of organic inquiry, rather than the pursuit of answers, becomes the prize.

Why is it that we have made this the exception to the rule? The delicious vacation state that must be abandoned, repressed, in order to get through daily life?

From these questions comes a great conundrum. The conundrum of knowing the tremendous relief that comes from not having all of the answers while we still pressure ourselves over and over to have all of the answers.

Only you can pop that bubble. Challenge the belief that leading with questions isn’t practical, congruent with what Needs To Get Done.

THE BELIEF THAT THE ONLY WAY TO CREATE SPACE FOR OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS IS TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL.

What if that isn’t true?

What if your ability to stay open, to ask more questions, to let go of the need for one, slick answer is the key to less stress, profound breakthrough, unfettered creativity? What if the most aligned, simple answers come from a string of unhurried questions that aren’t laced with expectation?

It takes practice and courage to lead with questions.

It’s a path that invites discomfort, the fumbling that comes with feeling around in the dark. It’s a choice that feeds that inner voice telling you that you’d better have an answer soon.

But the rewards are great. Think of the many great artists and inventors across the globe, across time. It’s unlikely that their creations came to be because they had all the answers. Isn’t it more likely that they stood in front of a blank canvas, a blank work table, and said ‘I don’t know‘?

(Yes, I asked a lot of questions in this article. See how that works?)

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