That is the Question?

As children, we question everything. “Why is the sky blue?” “What’s in this soup?” “Where do dead things go?” It is our way of examining the world with our tiny magnifying glasses of innocence and wonder. To me, asking questions was an effortless and necessary part of figuring out people, objects, and my pet cat Charlie to which I was allergic.

In high school, we would get extra points for having questions whenever a guest speaker came to talk. Before the first sentence was uttered, hands would be raised flapping in the air like birds in flight. The answers were never important. The fact that we had come up with a question was satisfaction enough.

Questions in college got harder to ask and even harder to answer. The questions required thought and the answers were less available in their purest form, reduced to scratched prisms that twisted and bended beams of thought. I started to learn the power of the question, of a question, in how one lives life and values the opinions of others. I wanted to ask a big question, an important question. And this desire to find one large, expansive question lead me to my decision to write a senior thesis.

At the end of my junior year, my thesis question seemed far away and full of possibility. I could research whatever interested me, searching for answers to the question I posed. But that question is no longer a mirage in the distance. Yesterday, my thesis advisor informed me that I had a lot of great ideas about the Philippines, its social structure, and internationally funded environmental protection projects. My adventures over the summer would definitely come in handy over the next 7 months when I would begin to wrestle with the available data. But right now what I needed most of all…was a question. A simple request at the surface, but coming up with just one question proved harder than I could have imagined. And I am struggling…

My grandfather sent me a gift last week, tucked inside one of his homemake cardboard boxes. The small wooden carving about two inches high had come alone. No note, no explanation. But isn’t that the way of questions?  They often appear quite out of the blue, just to make sure you’re paying attention.


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