Living in the Question

A potent question is a portal to infinite creativity. Socrates introduced us to a type of pedagogy in his method of questioning. Rilke implored his young poet to live in the question. Artistry lies in lingering with the curiosity that transforms our narrative. For years I lived in the question: What work is worth doing, and how would I know? It allowed me to examine what I said “Yes” to. I found an overabundance of meaning! At one point, the question changed almost overnight to: What work is not worth doing, and how would I know? I awakened in a different coordinate of space and time. My ability to refine my discernment and say “No” was honed.

Other questions have been: What is the role of an elder in our current times? What do I believe to be true, even though I cannot ground or prove it? How do I live my life in a way that I die consciously?

And the current question that I heard from David Whyte recently: What is the courageous question I have not asked myself? I find myself trembling on the threshold of something here. The question seems to have a life of it’s own. And it beckons.

As coaches, part of our work is to sense the client’s current narrative and craft questions and practices that will raise the curtain on what is emerging. Questions are compelling mirrors when framed towards self-realization and reflection. Our clients have to observe, wonder and arrive at their own truth. We might ask ourselves: What question if asked, could illuminate the current narrative and become a guiding force towards a new narrative? What questions create motion in our clients? How can a question change the context, the orientation or the landscape? What questions invite them to go into a deeper inquiry and reflection? How can that which cannot be spoken of be asked in a skillful, sensitive question? How might one in a question point to and illuminate aspects of our client’s life they might be blind to? I recall one person being stumped for weeks on the question: How do your clothes represent you? It never occurred to him that clothes mattered! After living in the question for a while, he hired a Nordstrom’s personal dresser!

Heidegger initiated his work with the question: Why is there something instead of nothing? Ray Croc asked: Where can I get a good hamburger on the road? Lo and behold, McDonalds! This year Edge, the technology and science philosophical Web site, has taken on the question: What scientific concept could change everyone’s cognitive toolkit? Last year’s question: How is the Internet changing the way you think?

What is the question that you are living in? How does your body respond to a question that has life energy in its soul? If you look back on your life, how have your questions changed? What are the most potent questions that you have asked clients? Join in this inquiry!

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
– Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

New Ventures West