Live the Questions
I am approaching this Substack with more intent. In reading the resources from the Substack team, their advice is to be clear on the “value proposition” to readers.
This proposition is the first one that came to me for Less Foolish:
A culture of inquiry that helps people navigate the complexities of life.
Imagine this: a place to inquire about what is relevant for you and others, with no unexamined pressure to achieve or heal something, while emphasizing the practical, which is to say, what can be put into practice. This place honors what bothers without collapsing into available narratives of what is true or what one should do.
For a culture of inquiry to thrive, one must have “living questions,” the questions one lives with without prematurely forcing an answer. If one cannot live with the questions, one cannot live with the mystery, and life is most beautiful when experienced as a mystery. A particular disposition is needed for this, which the poet Rainer Maria Rilke beautifully describes :
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
It is hard to live with some questions because some unanswered questions bring great tension to the body. Some examples of questions that my inquiry partners in my philosophy practice were living with:
Do I quit my job?
Should I tell my partner I cheated on them?
What is my responsibility toward my aging parents?
These questions do not have a straightforward answer. The job could bring a sense of deadliness, but it supports a family. The cheating could have happened years ago, and the telling could break up a family. The responsibility could require a sacrifice of personal ambitions for a family, bringing a sense of resentment, engendering guilt, amplifying unresolved tensions, etc.
Life is difficult, and these simple questions do not have simple answers. What makes this process easier is living with these questions with others. Strong families and good friends help us live with questions, as do therapists and coaches. Still, these outlets often do not have the availability or skills.
Family and friends have their own problems, and tricky relational dynamics can prevent specific questions from being asked. While therapists and coaches can be expensive, beholden to theoretical frameworks and market economy dynamics, e.g., a session ending at 55 minutes before something emotionally juicy can open up.
Many people are not skilled enough to live with the questions, understandably so, because things feel incredibly complex in the world today. I want to become skilled in living with the questions. I want us to become skilled in this as well. So, this is the reason for the value proposition for Less Foolish, and this will be the question I will be living with during the beginning phase of this venture:
How do I create a culture of inquiry that helps people navigate the complexities of life?
On the other side of the paywall, there will be a living question exercise you can begin now, which will enrich a relationship. There will also be Zoom links to the Collective Journalling session every weekday at 8 AM ET, and Collective Inquiry starts next Monday at 6 PM ET about the “alivelihood question.”
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