Happy October! It wasn’t entirely intentional, but September turned out to be a month of revisiting and exploring one troubled state that I’ve written a lot about over the years: grief. Grief over a dead mom. Over feelings of home that no longer exist. Over a career path that I’m no longer so passionate about. Now that it’s October 1st, I’m ready to shift my emphasis away from grieving and back towards living. I’m really drawn to, sometimes in spite of myself, the binary of grief/life. I like playing with the tension that surfaces when I put these two beside each other.
I was reminded of my desire to refocus my attention on (joyful) living, as I was reading Sue Hubbell’s wonderful book, a country year: living the questions. In particular, I came across a sentence in which she provides (at least) one explanation for the subtitle of her book. I decided to tweet it:
(Hubbell, 58) Living in a world where the answers to ?s can be so many & so good, is what gets me out of bed & into my boots every morning.
— Sara Puotinen (@undisciplined) October 1, 2012
Just prior to this sentence, Hubbell explains the different approaches that she and a yellow and black argiope (spider), have for making a living from bees. She contrasts both of these approaches with the honeybee’s methods for living. She remarks:
I love how she puts so many different creatures (not all human) beside each other as equally important characters in her book. And I love how she focuses on the beauty/wonder/excitement of so many different ways to approach the big questions in life.
I appreciate how Hubbell makes a focus on questions central to her writing by subtitling the book, “living the questions.” I’d like to put this phrase beside Paulo Freire’s “feeling the force of a question” in Learning to Question:
…the point of a question is not to turn the question, “What does it mean to ask questions?” into an intellectual game, but to EXPERIENCE THE FORCE OF THE QUESTION, experience the challenge it offers, experience curiosity, and demonstrate it to the students. The problem which the teacher is really faced with is how in practice progressively to create with the students the habit, the virtue, of asking questions, of being surprised (37).