Live The Questions Now

Photo by Leon Godwin ~

Photo by Leon Godwin ~


Prepare yourselves, folks - I'm feelin' pretty chatty this week!


Alright Mr. O'Donaue - lets get down to business here...

 "There is something special that each of us has to do in the world. ... One of the fascinating questions is to decipher what one's destiny is.  At the heart of each destiny is hidden a unique life calling.  What is it you are called to do?"

So basically John, you're asking... "Mally, what is the meaning of life?"  Or actually, even more specifically... "what is the meaning of your life?"



Last night, I lay out on a dock in the middle of a lake in New Hampshire and watched the Showers of Perseus.  The night sky could not have been more perfect - crystal clear, no moon in sight.  I saw shooting star after shooting star; some left tails of glowing light in the sky, others were so fleeting, if I blinked I missed them. 

Every year I try to spend at least one summer night lying on that dock taking in the bigness everything.  And every year the experience is even more magical, overwhelming and profound than the year before.

Earlier in the day yesterday, I sat with my parents, each of us busy with our own reading or writing.  I was quietly creaking back and forth in an old rocking chair, reading this week's blessing over and over, searching for inspiration, for something concrete to hold on to.  But I kept coming up short. 

So eventually, turning to my mom, I asked:

"Do you think you have a calling?"    

"Yes.  I believe that my calling is to open the hearts of adolescents to empathy." 

It was a clear, honest, and immediate response.  I was impressed, but not surprised.  My mom is an incredible teacher and has been for forever, pretty much.  I think that truly is her calling - and how amazing that she is able to put her finger on it so precisely.  And not only that, but all those junior high students she has guided and supported throughout her career as a teacher are living proof of her phenomenal work.

"And what about you, dad?" 

He took a moment before he responded.

"Well, I think it's changed.  From when I was a twenty-something out of college... a married man... a father... a working man... it's changed."  He paused again, "But what is my calling now? ... Well... It's complicated."

It was the thoughtful response I expected from my dad.


As I lay there last night, the cold hard dock beneath me, and endless sky above, I found myself revisiting that question of calling and destiny; do I have a calling? Can my calling change? What if I never figure it out? What if its something I don't like? On and on and on... the questions kept on coming.  Eventually and I couldn't help but wonder, does it even matter what my calling is?  Lying there, it was overwhelmingly clear just how small my life is - its a miniscule blip on the radar of time.  So really, in the grand scheme of things, does it actually matter?  Do I matter? 

So rather than finding any semblance of an answer to O'Donahue's question, there I was swimming in a sea of even more questions!  And that's when I recalled this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that has surfaced two different times in my life - once as a freshman in college, and then again this past week:

"I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

So I let down my guard a bit.  And as I did, I noticed the questions bubble up to the surface, and instead of then sinking into the depths of my heart, they just floated there.

I began to recall past nights out on that dock: one night in particular, three years ago.  I lay out there with my three favorite people in the entire universe, each so different from the next, each with his or her own unique voice, unique calling, unique destiny.  We had just spent five days together in a cabin in the middle of the woods making music and building an album, which would eventually be called Look Up (how fitting for a blog entry about star gazing, right?).  The sky was as perfectly clear that night as it was just 19 hours ago. 

For that brief moment in time, for that little blip on the radar, our destinies were intertwined.  If you had asked me then, three years ago, what my calling was, I probably would have said to make music with my best friends.  And I don't think that answer would have been wrong - because even though those times are gone, they are a part of who I am, and they have lead me here to this day, a day full of questions.

So now its time to live the questions.  


The incredible photograph above was taken by a good friend of mine, Leon Godwin - a ridiculously talented artist, photographer, musician and overall awesome human being.  He took this photo while hiking the John Muir trail with his wife.  And actually - to bring it all full circle - Leon did the artwork for our album, Look Up, and this image was used on the cover. 

So for my art project this week, I made this dangle-y thing.  Each square has a question written on it, a question that in this moment right now, I am trying to live.  I found it really hard to photograph this particular art piece, and I also feel less attached to sharing the art this week, I think maybe because so much of my energy went into writing this entry - it feels a bit more like that's the art, not this strange dangle-y thing!  But at any rate, to give you a better idea of what it actually is, think of a wind chime but instead of chimes, its questions.  So I guess that makes it a wind question.  



If you made it all the way to the end of this blog post, you deserve an award!  Its a long one, I know ~ Thanks for taking the time to read it  =]