PhilosophyCenter PhilosophyCenter | Musings
PhilosophyCenter | Musings

Posts from — March 2014

Living the Questions

Living the Questions

Those who come to PhilosophyCenter for counseling, despite the differences of personality and circumstances, often have at least this much in common: Something deep in their psyche has begun rattling around and demanding attention, like a squeaky screen door or loose shutter that the wind keeps banging against the house. Sometimes they’ve lived with it a long time, and got so used to it that they didn’t hear it anymore. But lately, it’s been growing more insistent. And now it’s time to put the house in order. Something triggers this. They may be feeling anxious or out of sorts, caught in a loop of anger and resentment, or pervasively sad with no apparent reason. Each of these states has left them with the intrusive sense of something essential suspended, unresolved, incomplete in some way that no longer can be ignored. In essence, who they are has become a question that needs answering.

Usually all of this brings a certain urgency. They not only want the answer, they want it now, or at least soon. Our whole culture has gone to lengths to inculcate in us this demand for speed. Computers, ATMs, next-day delivery, jet travel, instant Internet socializing even in the midnight hour, tweets and texts and telecommuting—at every turn we see technology pressed into the service of instant gratification, the compression of time, and real social contact, community, and conversation being usurped by their digital counterparts—and all of this leaves one weighing what we’ve gained in the ability to go faster and faster against what we’ve lost.

For all of that, it is a truth borne out again and again that self-work cannot be done quickly. In order to examine the assumptions we carry in the shadows of our being, we have to slow down, notice the unasked question there, and be willing to ask it. In this process, we discover that living well, being happy, and coming into possession of what Plato called the “well ordered soul” are not advances that happen overnight, and so we learn to be patient with those days in which, aware of the better path, we yet fail to take it. Instead of answers, philosophical counseling gives clarifications, directions, and new ways to look at old things. Answers have their place, serving essentially as bookmarks in the story of our life, and over time, if we slow down enough to pay attention, we may come to appreciate how much they change, and that having answers is far less important than how beautifully we live the questions.

March 24, 2014   Comments Off on Living the Questions