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Monday, October 5, 2009

The Important Questions

Remember those wonderful moments when you wanted to shout "eureka! I have it!" and run around rejoicing in your classroom? No? Perhaps you did, or perhaps you just wanted school to end as soon as possible.
I can't honestly remember too many times when I shared in the sentiments of awe and surprise at understanding something that had eluded me for a time, but there was one triumphant moment I recall.

Like all good literary-musical-type people, I can barely add in my head, and anything with the world "algebra" in it is akin to reading Chinese (because, being literary, languages with letters such as German or Spanish are foreign, but not so hard. A language with symbols is just like math! Numbers are supposed to mean things that they don't mean... ah!). Anyway, I was in a "graphing calculator" class in high school, and although I never learned how to program in the formulas to make my life easy (no wonder everyone else got good grades and I was just sitting there stupidly, lol), I DID learn how to make programs :).

So, while (as I said) all the other students were putting their time to good use by programming in the formulas to get through the tests, I was busy creating programs that asked questions about teachers or students we all knew and then gave you a few different answers to choose from, all of which were rather funny.
So we would pass my "calculator quizzes" aroung the room and enjoy giggling while my teacher was trying to be serious (which she was ALWAYS successful at!).

I will openly admit that every time I managed to make something on that calculator I was shocked. I just couldn't understand how it worked! Yet, there I was managing to achieve some small greatness. 

So what is it about a moment of eureka! that makes it so lasting in our memory? I was sixteen when I learned how to program quizzes... seven years later I still remember the excitement and pleasure I had then.
I believe that part of the stunning branding of these experiences is that one of the important questions has been discovered.

Yes, I said that a question had been discovered, not answered.

I believe many of the most important questions do not ever become "answered" in our lives. These are the on-going questions - the ones that need time to grow with us because they are pivotal, if not intrinsic, to our self-discovery.

Now, how does learning how to program a calculator affect my self-discovery? This experience was answering many questions internally, even though objectively that was not my purpose. Questions such as, "am I able?", "where are my boundaries?", "what are my limits?", "am I good enough?", "am I intelligent enough?", in fact, "am I enough?". These small tests of the person throughout life are constantly going back to our deeper consciousness. Although we often do not think of it, even something as simple as writing on a blog and finding that we have accomplished a statement we felt needed to be made... that can lead to a far deeper analysis and awareness of our inner heart and mind.

It is most imporant that we ask these questions. Even if we are not taking the time to integrate the answers and analyze our results in light of our self-discovery, we need to slow down enough to ask the questions.
Why? Who? How? What? These should fit into everything... why are we here? Who are we? What is our purpose? How do our actions affect us? How do we affect others? How does the world affect us? Why do we affect each other? Is there a reason for everything? What is the reason for anything? Is there an ultimate cause? What is our final end? How did we come into existence? Are others necessary? Is it necessary that we experience all of this world? Is it necessary for others that we exist? Is it necessary for us that others exist? Etc...

The list can go on and on, but those are the kind of internal questions that can and should be running along within us when we are doing anything. Even when we aren't doing anything. Even if we are simply being. Perhaps more when we are simply being.

We will find ourselves the subjects of eureka! moments more and more when we realize that they are not only single moments which we recall in fond memory, but on-going processes which we will perhaps never see the end of. Even as we are old and reaching our ends, I am sure we will be shocked to discover things about ourselves and the world that we just "understand" all of a sudden. And we will hopefully always find ourselves wondering how we didn't see that fact before, or know that truth, only to be more aware that there is always more truth to uncover.