Q is for Questions…

Q is for Questions

Q is for Questions

To have a questioning mind is to be receptive to all the knowledge of the universe! There really is no such thing as a dumb question but there can be such a thing as a dumb mind…. To ask a question because you’re interested in the answer keeps your mind open, but if someone thinks they already know everything then their mind is not open, and that’s what I mean by a dumb mind.

I have always questioned things… asking for more information, more details. After a while of questioning whether, or why, I must have driven my parents mad. I know I upset some… I wasn’t meaning to be rude or difficult, I really wanted to know more or understand better. And I thought the teachers and leaders were there to answer those burning questions that were taking up all the space in my head! “I’m not arguing, I’m testing theories!”

And that, my faithful reader, is why I was asked to leave Sunday School at the tender age of 9 years.

Its people like me that keep asking and go on to make great discoveries. I haven’t discovered anything great yet, but I’m a fine example for those that will. I think it was someone like Einstein who said he still learnt new things each day.

ASK!!!  Enquire… investigate… gather more information so you can uncover as much about something as you can… on any level, I cannot understand why a person doesn’t. Children seem keen on asking questions but as they get older they slowly stop questioning and enquiring. Teenagers are renowned for not talking, or at least for their limited amount of communication! So some questions can be frustrating, but use them as an opening to chat…

I must confess I did get a bit frustrated with some questions from one certain person, at a certain time of the day, for a certain period of time… the questions were a bit annoying, but looking back I think they were being asked as an opening to conversation (I don’t really think she was asking just to be annoying, surely not??). Unfortunately, they came at the time of the day that was hectic with everyone coming and going at home, and me getting dinner together… and at time in our lives that was fraught with conflict and pressures from all directions. (I think I’d rather like the chance to have those questions annoy me once more, ho hum).

Generally speaking I will answer a question genuinely, and only ask what I am interested to know. If I ask you ‘how you are today?’  … I do want to know. Isn’t it funny though how many people ask simply by way of a greeting, usually an automatic greeting… “Oh hello, how are you today? Nice weather…” and they certainly don’t listen to the answer!  This is so common in fact, that my sister commented about it to me one day, when she was in hospital after giving birth to my niece: she said she had to remember to actually answer properly when nursing staff and the doctors asked how she was … to start with she gave the automatic answer! Apparently the first nurse let her know that wasn’t helpful.

So, asking questions is the best way to gather the information together so you solve some dilemma or problem. This might be a situation inside your mind or own world, or it could be far-reaching and be for your workplace or family, neighbourhood, or even humanity itself. Nobel Peace Prize get ready! Whatever the goal, the process is the same: Question, question, question! Keep delving into the books, the internet, your own brain… refuse to give up until your light bulb moment goes “poof” and you realise you’ve got it!

So many questions… And yet, we also must tread carefully if asking deeper questions, more personal ones. Everyone has their own level of what’s ok, so tread carefully ~ after all, it’s a person’s heart and soul you’re treading on. Just as the brain surgeon and the heart surgeon, each with such a delicate touch is needed for such intricate operations, so to must a person be equally gentle when delving into someone’s hurts, fears, and inadequacies.

Something else that always gets me… HOW you ask a question will have such a difference on the answer or response. Closed questions are ones where the answer can be simply Yes, No or Maybe; like “do you like Blue?”… but an open-ended question is like “Which colour do you like best?” or “Why do you like Blue?” ~ these elicit something more in an answer. This is huge when you’re talking to teenagers, but also tots. If you’re trying to strike up a conversation with someone use the open-ended questions to draw them out.

In fact, when I was still rather new to my new town, and new train trip to work, I was feeling very shy and isolated. I didn’t know anyone! I had left a town that I’d lived in for about a hundred years and moved to somewhere where I knew one person other than the husband that moved there with me! It was hard to meet people cos I was never there.  Interestingly, I found a column somewhere saying that the best way to make new friends is to strike up conversation and ask them about themselves, to show an interest in them. So armed with this theory I hopped on the train the next morning and looked for a likely candidate. Everyone was asleep … it was rather early in the morning. However! not to give up too easily, I reminded myself of this on the train that evening… a pleasant bunch of three had offered me the spare seat at their table and I sat with my nose in a book (feeling very shy)… they started talking about fishing and after a bit I plucked up the courage to ask them about fishing spots as I was new to the area… it worked a treat! I asked about things they knew and they were happy to chat… I met them again a few times and so it continued… they’ve become very good friends and we all get together frequently on weekends… So if you’re feeling lonely or a bit shy, try it ~ you may be surprised how easy it is. Our train crowd has grown from a couple of small groups to a rather large fluid group of several who travel not so regularly, and us core bunch who travel more or less every day.

The power of asking questions and being open to the possibilities!

I’m going to leave with you a poem I rather like… being somewhat nosy… I mean inquisitive, this poem strikes a note with me, and makes me think of my daughters too

Rudyard Kipling wrote a lovely poem about his Six Serving Men:

I KEEP six honest serving-men
 (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When 
 And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
 I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
 I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
 For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
 For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views; 
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
 From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

The Elephant’s Child Questions and Answers signpost


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