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    The Magic of Questions

    “We thought we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong."  -  Bono

    Long before I ever heard the song, 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, by U2, I was seeking answers, but sometimes asking the wrong questions. No matter. What was important was that I was damn fucking curious.

    We’ve all heard that “Curiosity killed the cat”. Bullshit. I would rather be a cat killed by curiosity than a cat so asleep at the wheel of life that he never ventured deep into the unknown; never questioning, never looking, never seeking, never bothering to go beyond the limits of his own metaphysical peripheral vision. 

    Ultimately, the questions we ask are more important than the answers. Because we may never get the answers. But at least we can be clear about the questions. Answers are more ethereal, more subjective, and more determinant based on their source. Questions are actually more concrete, more definitive. Paradoxical, but true. 

    You can tell a lot more about a person based on the questions they ask, or don’t ask, rather than the answers they give. When you have a conversation with someone, pay attention to the questions you ask, and pay attention to the questions they ask. What are you curious about? What are they curious about? The breadth and the depth of the questions define the conversation, not the answers. 

    Even today, I’m as insatiably curious as a child. Curiosity is one of the cornerstones of my personality, one of my definitive traits. I love being surrounded by curious people. They feed me, and I feed them, with the questions we ask. Looking for the answers is often more satisfying than actually getting them. When I am immersed in the process of discovery with another person, I feel a deep sense of connection. At its best, the experience is spiritual.

    My father was incredibly curious, and he planted that seed in me. I recall a very poignant moment with him one day about 25 years ago. We were sitting in his office, where we had many great discussions together. On this day, we were talking about success, and how we define it. I asked my dad what the word “success” meant to him. He told me that it wasn’t about how much money you make. For my dad, it was about how much one is loved, and how much one loves. He rattled off a slew of adjectives that defined the parameters of success for him: respect, kindness, integrity, generosity, being the best friend, husband, father, uncle, you could be. He basically, without knowing it, described himself.

    But when I then asked him if he considered himself a success, my father shocked me with his reply: “Not really” he said. I came back with “Dad, do you realize that you just described yourself?”. 

    Then, my dad paused, and did what he always did when he was deeply pondering something. He squinted his eyes, stared off into space, leaned back in his office chair, and gently picked his lip. My dad was, for a moment, speechless. I had nailed him, and he knew it. After a few moments, he said, “Yeah, you’re right. Let me get back to about that.” I loved it when I asked my dad a question he couldn’t answer. He respected and valued my curiosity, and my intelligence, and this was vindication of that.

    Dad never did get back to me on that one. If he came back to life, that is where my first discussion with him would begin. Right after I hugged and kissed him like there was no tomorrow. 

    When I was in school, During tests, I would routinely make up the answers to questions when I didn’t have a clue. My philosophy was, if I couldn’t make an educated guess, I might as well have some fun. 

    Join me for part two when I delve into the creative mayhem of that.


    ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved. 

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