Questions. Kids are good at them. Why? Why is the sky blue? Why do the leaves fall off the trees — don’t they like the tree anymore? What’s that? Where are we going? (And the dreaded Are we there yet?)
Writers need to be good at them, too. Why is a good question for writers to ask. What if can give birth to amazing flights of fancy, deep musings and great stories. And if we keep asking questions, we’ll find that we’re NEVER there yet.
Some questions are burnt into our collective consciousness. Where were you when questions are in that category.
Where were you when JFK was shot? I was not quite seven, and Canadian, so was unaware of that tragedy until later. However, I remember Dad coming in the door early one June, 1968, morning after driving to the train station to pick up my cousin, and telling us that Bobby Kennedy had been shot. That moment seared into my memory.
Where were you when you heard about the Challenger? I was standing at the door of the public library, waiting for a ride, and a stranger standing next to me told me. As soon as my ride showed up, I made him turn on the car radio. Devastating.
It’s important for us to continue to ask questions throughout our lives, in whatever situation (personal or societal) that we find ourselves. Why are things that way? How can we change that? Is this the best it can be? How does this impact others? How can I help? What can I do?
We can’t learn the answers, we can’t start to work toward things being better, until we ask the questions. Sometimes it’s not easy to ask questions. It can be scary to rock the boat. It can seem dangerous. But if one of us starts questioning something, that will give others courage to question it, too.
If we ask the questions in our writing, it may touch someone who will start raising the question in their own mind, in their family, in their circle of friends. One question can be the beginning of great things.
We need to continue asking questions as we get older, as well. When we stop asking questions about all that’s around us, we stagnate. We turn inward. Questions keep us curious. They keep us learning. This article from Next Avenue shows that lifelong learners age better, more joyfully, and stay more alert through the aging process.
My mother modeled that. My doctor (who was the rounds doctor at Mum’s nursing home) used to marvel at how much Mum read. She decided at age 88, in her small, shared, nursing home room, that she wanted to learn more about how the human body works. She asked her doctor to recommend books.
He searched his own bookshelves, and when he didn’t have anything on the right level for her abilities at that age, he told me what to look for. I bought two books for her, with pull-out photos and copious, easily-understood information, and she pored over those pages. She kept asking questions.
Asking questions contributes to quality of life, no matter what age we are.
The questions must be asked. If we don’t ask them, who will?
And seemingly unrelated, Quack. Don’t forget that Julie’s Greenroom (with the DUCK) makes its debut on Friday, March 17, asking the questions, “How can kids become excited about the arts?” “How can we make sure that ,with funding cuts everywhere, kids still have access to the arts?” “If not us, who?” Check out this fabulous article that appeared in the New York Times on the weekend.