New Castle News

February 24, 2014

Lisa Madras: We’re living, breathing question marks searching for answers

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Why are we still asking ourselves questions?

It's been a long time now that I've been writing this blog.There are times when I wonder when it will run its course — when my readers will lose interest in questions, when I will simply run out of questions to ask.

Since I've had a little break from writing questions, I've had a lot of time to think about if I should really still be asking them. And silly as it sounds, this was the one question I should have already known the answer to.

I feel like I've come a very long way since the inception of this column. Completely healed? Probably not. But a million times closer to being the whole me I used to be? Definitely.

I couldn't have made it through the dark valleys and the thunderstorms and the tear-drenched pillows without perpetually pulling pieces of myself out of the darkness for closer examination in the light. I've had a lot of doors shut in my face because of other people's maliciousness, and sometimes even from my own stupidity. I don't have the keys to open most of the doors. But I do have the courage to knock.

Do you want to know a little secret about me?  I never know the answers to these questions when I start writing each blog.  I put them out there like a quick rapping at the door, and then let the door open, and the answers unfold, as the writing comes out.

The important thing is not that I know the answers to the questions, because on the surface, I don't. What's important is that I keep asking. And if I've learned anything though years of loss and confusion and self-doubt, it's this: I love myself enough to keep searching for perspective.

I once read that loving the questions means to love yourself. And you are the biggest question mark your world has ever known. It matters very little if others understand you. In fact, it matters very little if they even care to try. They have their own mysteries to unfold, and the only perspective that matters is our own. Nobody else in this entire world has experienced our life, faced our challenges, celebrated our triumphs, suffered our losses. Nobody, not one single person, has lived a day in our shoes. Nobody else's truth is our truth, so nobody else's truth will ever be the truth we need to know.

This is why we have to keep digging into the darkness inside of us, unearthing the hows and the whys and the what ifs that make us who we are.  If we don't do it, nobody else is going to. And if we don't do it, we'll never become better than we are right now.

We, as living beings, have basically two choices: change, or remain the same. If you're in a place where everything is exactly how you would love it to be, congratulations, and please let the rest of us know the secret. (That's not sarcasm, seriously. You have my email address — send me the secrets now! I don't have much money, but I do have a pretty constant supply of homemade chocolate chip cookies, and I'm willing to share.)

But the rest of us? We're on a journey. Some of us are closer to the beginning, and some of us are closer to the end. We can share the tidbits of wisdom that we've gathered along the way. We can share the tools that have worked for us, and we can lend a helping hand, and we can even show up with a plateful of warm cookies. (Remember, that offer still stands.) But we don't have the answers to your questions, because you're the sole owner of those, even if you're too weary and scared and beaten-down to realize it right now.

And do you remember how I said that I loved myself enough to keep asking questions? That wasn't always true, you know. I'd been damaged so badly by people that should have, by all rights, loved me, that I hated myself more than they did. But someone else on their journey happened by, and handed me this tool. And that tool became this blog. And this blog became these questions.

So the answer to this week's question is this: We're still asking ourselves questions because our very survival depends upon it. We take our tools where we find them, and it's up to us to put them to good use. You might think it's arrogant for me to say, "Here, I'm handing you a tool. Now use it." But that's OK, because you don't have to understand ME, or even care to try. You're on your own journey, but you just happened to cross the path of a fellow traveler whose arsenal of tools is a list of questions.

I hope you use them to bring yourself the love you deserve. (And here's a hint —  it's already inside you.)