Recently I disappointed someone who was seeking answers from me. It raised an interesting introspection for me about the idea of answers and I think it bears discussing.
Why Seek Answers?
I remember when I was quite young – perhaps 6 – being at dinner with my family. At the time my brothers had small cars made of plastic with the name of a brand or model printed on the back although the plastic cars were all the same except for random changes in color. I was expected to stand at one end of the room and when my father held up the small toy at the other end of the room I was expected to say what make or model the car was. I usually guessed correctly – so much so that it became a form of entertainment for visitors to our house.
I remember being terrified of the whole exercise because I was only guessing and I really did not know the answer. However, it was just one example of many instances where being right and mirroring “rightness” so often is more important than being present and living our truth.
Living From Answers
When we live from answers we have a predefined objective and an expectation. That may seem to make sense but there is an inherent problem with it:
No two people, moments or contexts are the same.
So when we attempt to obtain an objective or expectation we are essentially using force on people, places and situations. Not only is it disempowering for us but it is for others as well because no one can know 100% what someone else wants or needs.
Living from answers gives us feelings of control and temporary feelings of security and even pleasure but we give up our power and adaptability which is a lot to give up.
Answers And Choices Are Different
Answers and choices are not the same thing. Living from answers means imposing a predetermined idea on the present. Making a choice is always living in the present within the realities of individuals, contexts and possibilities.
Choices are a living thing. Answers are not.
Choices are about the unfolding of life and answers are about living from the past.
Choices let us offer our gifts to the moment; answers cause us to hide in favor of what is accepted by others.
Choices let us contribute, answers force us to please.
The Peril Of Fixed Goals
Fixed goals and objectives do not allow for course corrections, new information, and better solutions. They may have negative consequences and be inefficient. But we follow them anyway.
It is a curious thing but we seem to have a psychology around not changing that is very strong that prevent us from embracing alternatives. Ideas like:
- nobody likes a quitter
- never give up on your dreams
- when the going get tough, the tough get going
are ideas that cause us to stay the course.
The Price Of Loyalty
These ideas about quitting and perseverance are ideas that value loyalty over intelligence and creativity. We are taught to be loyal to certain ideas, ways of being and identities. We are expected to “make life work” by adhering to rules and roles whether they work for us or not. So what is really being valued is loyalty. Is that the most important value? Where does it stack up against health and quality of life?
Living from answers means living from a loyalty of some kind. Often the loyalty is unquestioned and so we do not understand why with the best of intentions something does not work out for us.
So loosen up the conformity without needed to be rebellious for rebellion’s sake. Give what you can to each moment. Give up answers and ask what each moment needs and you will be more on target more of the time.