A curious mixture of current events and memories have blended together to create this post.
Being in Ireland for a couple of weeks, a memory involving my boyfriend’s first visit here to meet my family and the conversations they engaged in and the fact that Facebook turned fifteen sometime over the last few days, have combined to get me thinking about questions.
I’ve written about how not being on Facebook has narrowed the window of information available on me to potentially interested parties and therefore works in my favour to make me appear much more of a curiosity than I otherwise might be.
Coming home as infrequently as I do means that I get asked an awful lot of questions when I arrive back on this island. What I haven’t failed to notice is how similar the patterns of questioning are, down to the very details that people seem to want to know.
As a teacher we are taught that questioning is essential to shore up what is understood, what is not yet known and to shine a light on the person and the personality behind the answers. The questions we ask of others reveal as much about ourselves as our answers in turn do.
I reckon we’ve all been in a situation where we repeated a question which reveals more about our own state of mind. From reflection I know I tend to ask you OK? whenever I am not feeling too steady in myself. It is curious how questions work.
Once I met someone who asked me questions that I regarded as so probing that I initially closed myself off to them, afraid that they were seeking to figure me out and that what they would find would lead them to want to create, and maintain, distance from me.
In real life, much more so than here, I can be terribly secretive.
Over time I have come to change my understanding of questions and to see the power of asking the right kind of questions. Being a teacher has helped of course but too, in my personal life, the people who have asked me genuine questions because they wanted to know me, have been met with similarly genuine answers. That is connection.
As I return to my Parisian home and to questions I can almost predict (though I do appreciate them) I can’t reflect upon the kinds of questions I miss and the kinds of questions I would like to be asked over coffee. I’ll leave you with the five that come to my mind, possibly come into existence because I am rarely so forthcoming with those around me.
- How are you really doing?
- Can we listen to the music you like?
- Could you explain your book to me?
- What other creative stuff do you get up to?
- Would you tell me what I mean to you?
Though personal, I wonder what yours might be.