During our trip, our hostess suggested that I lead some conversations about how the idea of slow love might apply to our travels. I decided to pose a question for the group to think about during the day, so that we could discuss it at mealtime. I like having table-wide dinner conversations better than the chitchat that happens when a small group fractures; you get to know your companions better, and you hear interesting things, and you aren't wondering whether that end is having a better time than your end.
I did not predict one response: "That’s a bad question."
That remark stayed with me, but, in the way that so often happens, a barb turned into the prickle that made me think about something new: the question of questions. Is there such a thing as a bad question? (And we're not talking about rude, prying, personal or petty questions here.)
The most important questions that have ever been asked are what might be called the naïve questions. What is the good life? What is truth? What is the meaning of life? What is happiness?
These are big, vague, questions, that can be asked at any time in anyone’s life. After any journey, any event. And they can be asked by anyone. They are the most interesting kinds of questions, because they teach you something:
The point is not the question.
Questions are only the opening of doors. Much more important is how you walk into the space created by a question. What you draw upon to reply, and what that reveals about you, to others, or to yourself.
One person answered my question about what they might change by asking a different question: Why should we change? Why should travel make any difference at all? You get to a certain point in life, he said, you get older, and you don’t want to change anything. You're satisfied. That got me thinking...
Another person spoke of how the trip has reaffirmed her decision to give herself permission to be more adventurous about what she does, to let herself do things she has only dreamed of doing. That, too, made me think about how fear or anxiety has held me back.
My sister talked about reconnecting with Lisa, her childhood friend with whom we are traveling--and how important it is to share memories, and be reminded what you were like when you were young.
On the question of questions, here's where I came out: If we are paying attention, if we honor anyone's question with an open mind, with an intention to explore, or play--and without judgmental defensiveness--we may just find answers where we least expect them.