There are years that ask questions and years that answer. –Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
For my first full-time job out of college I worked as the only staff writer for a small education newspaper
I made a decent salary doing what I have always known I wanted: to be a writer. I was also exhausted and depressed, and spent evenings and weekends recovering rather than creating writing projects that excited me.
Covering school board meetings routinely gave me migraines and multiple knots in my belly. I felt gratified and privileged to see my name in print with the title of “staff writer.” Yet daily I inched closer to burnout and hopelessness.
Six months into my job at the paper, it was Winter and I discovered Dawna Markova’s
I Will Not Die an Unlived Life. I stayed up nights reading in bed grasping for shreds of hope about living life on my own terms.
The world Markova talked about – one that included her deciding to take her young son on a yearlong trip around the world – felt a lot different than the world I knew.
Growing up I saw my parents – who both have masters degrees from a prestigious university – drag themselves to their middle-class jobs like indentured servants, their tired bodies subconsciously whispering to me, “You can’t expect to have a job that you like. Work is supposed to be hard and exhausting. That is just the way it is.”
Silently I took a vow: when I grew up I would find work I loved.
Inspired by the ideas in Markova’s book and thirsty for companionship in my quest, I emailed a bunch of friends and asked them to tell me what life question was “up” for them at that time. I would then compile the questions anonymously and share them with the group.
The thoughtful questions of the twenty people who responded reminded me then and now that I am not alone. They asked questions like:
Who do I allow into my life today? How should I manage boundaries to stay on the path towards my personal best?
Am I going to get into medical school?
When I look at a picture of me as a 5-year old, I think ‘What do I owe her?’
It has been six years since this experiment. Since then I have tried many, many strategies for Right Livelihood, from working at Trader Joes to being a self-employed yoga teacher and bodyworker. As a result, I have clarified that my long-term vision is to be an author, teacher, and lecturer writing about my experience of Life and living.
While I am further along the path of finding work that I love than I was right after college, I am not yet where I want to be, and I’m guessing it will be another 7-10 years minimum before I am living my long-term vision.
So I am inspired to do this experiment again, inviting you dear reader, to join me: What life question is most “up” for you right now? Nothing is too mundane. Nothing is too deep. Send them to me! I will compile an anonymous list of the juicy inquiries and post them on November 17, when I am next scheduled to update this blog.
I have been told a good book is not made by the answers that it gives, but by the questions that it asks.
This is true about life as well. A good life is not made by all the answers it contains. A good life is made by the sincerity of the questions that it asks and the willingness stay with those questions for as long as it takes.
There are years that ask questions. There are years that answer. In this year of questions, I want to have the patience to wait for real answers.
Meditation: So what is Life asking you right now? Take out a pen, paper, and timer and write the questions that want to come through your pen. Don’t think too much, just get to scribbling. Click here to anonymously tell us what you discover.
Text and images by Beandrea Terese Davis. Copyright 2009. Check with author before reprinting.