Growing up, my favorite (and often only) pasttime was reading. Usually this would be novels like Lord of the Rings, the Belgariad, or other fantasy novels. I loved the chance to get lost in these worlds, in these stories. For me, it was the chance to experience something so detached from reality so as to make the life I lived, which was (and is) a wonderful one, seem more wondrous in its own right.
Today, while I still enjoy getting lost in these stories at times, I find that my portal to different worlds, often fantastical worlds, is through the exercise of asking questions. These questions are often based in reality, but when they themselves are responded to again and again with more and more questions, the original premise often finds itself, while ostensibly based in the world that I and others inhabit, so far off from the land of reality that those around me often exclaim as to their ridiculousness, often with voices heavily steeped in exasperation.
While these questions usually do abound in reality to begin with, it is the sheer impossibility of the following questions that I find the most joy in. A question about being adopted may stray into questions centered on the morality of, well, frankly, whatever. How these questions meander down into these unrelated landscapes is something that I am unsure of, but I am quite certain that I love the experience.
For me, the question is not whether or not I enjoy this process, but why. For me, the value of a question does not lie in the answer that follows from it. In fact, I believe that finding an answer inherently devalues the question that answered it. This is not to deny the practical necessity of answering many of the questions that we have – it is merely an affirmation of my joy in the unanswerable nature of certain questions.
Perhaps the true joy of an unanswerable question is simply the quest to find this eternally hidden answer. Seeking the solution to these questions leads to more and more questions, some of them with solutions that enrichen, some with answers that call into question the central nature of who we are as a person. More often than not, however, the quest simply ends once the mental exactitude of creating more and more questions finds itself run out of gas.
At the end of all these questions, I often find that the people around me ask, sometimes kindly and sometimes otherwise, what the point of it all is. Perhaps the joy of these unanswerable questions (and sometimes unending) is the utter and complete lack of practicality and purpose. The process of asking these queries is the purpose in and of itself. It is the painful ecstasy of realizing that there often are no answers, or at least no honest ones, to morality, God, politics, family or a million other things. That there is no point, that there is no end, that there is no purpose whatsoever, that is why I engage in these questios – or dialogues when the situation is perfect.
In our modern culture, we are often (but not always) told that our actions should always have a goal. When we have spare time during the week, we are encouraged to develop a side hustle, become entrepenours on the side, expand our income generating abilities. When we are exhausted, we are told to take some time to “recharge our batteries” so that we can get back to the real world of production and generation of whatever the fuck it is that we are supposed to generate. We are not machines with batteries to recharge. We are not income earners, or capitalists (or Marxists for that matter) – we are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, students and learners, we are those without the answers. And at the end of the day, there is nothing quite so pursposeful as seeking through the unending exercise of questioning.