This morning as I plopped the weight of my body onto my overflowing suitcase, using one hand to stuff and one hand to pull the zipper, the question again went running through my mind. I shoved it aside. I lugged the big purple bag onto the scale and then off again with a sigh- it was still a pound too heavy. I opened it to examine the contents, but I continued to close my mind to the question. I stared at the clothes rolled in tight little bundles wedged snuggly from one end of the suitcase to the other. The question appeared again, and so I tucked it away. I didn’t want to have to decide what to take and what to leave; I didn’t know how to decide, and so I didn’t. I laughed at myself again looking at the 12 pair of dress pants I had packed: three of each color (black, brown and grey) and three of each size (the biggest ones I blame on the 5 weeks I’ve spent in transition and the smallest I’m clinging to as my tangible tokens of hope).
In my fat pants and thin pants the question looms; it lingers on my one-way plane ticket and it weaves its way into every thought, action and conversation. Like a pesky mosquito buzzing around my ear, like a lock of long bangs falling in my face, like a forthcoming tear escaping from the corner of my eye I brush it away, thoughtlessly and habitually, all the time knowing it will return soon enough.
The problem with the question is that its not really a question. It pretends to be and poses as such: each time starting with a word like ‘what’ or ‘how’ or ‘where’ or ‘when.’ “What will you…” “Where will you…” “How are you going to…” But when the end of the question is supposed to appear, making way for the answer to enter, it doesn’t. Instead it trails on, spilling out into a hundred more answerless questions. The question is actually an entryway, opening up into thousands of paths, each one exponentially impacting the other and frantically multiplying the millions of possible outcomes.
And so I find myself answerless. Dumbfounded, stopped in my tracks, overwhelmed, exhausted, scared, paralyzed, wanting nothing more than to sit down right where I am and cling to what is familiar and comfortable and safe and secure.
But only momentarily.
Because soon enough, each time quicker than the time before, I draw my rebuttal to the answerless question that leads into a never ending abyss of not-knowing. And then I am able to carry on.
Believe it or not, the rebuttal is not a weapon to fight away these irritating questions; to keep them from coming to my mind or out of your mouth. Its not a bridge built over the great answerless void like an answer made up or guessed at just to make us feel better. The rebuttal is not even a reminder for patience, as you might think, reassuring us that in time the answers will make themselves known. Although all of these tactics have been tried wholeheartedly, none have proved as successful as this one.
When I find myself facing the barrage of questions that lead me to places unknown, this is the word I whisper in my heart. And it works.
Because to that question, the answer I know. Without a doubt. No second guessing. No explanation necessary. That’s the final answer.
And so the answer to the word becomes a safe and secure and comfortable lens through which I look to see what’s ahead of me. And before my very eyes, the void then becomes full, a mountain of endless possibilities and adventures created just for me, just as I choose, each answer leading to the next.
And so for the hundredth time, I open the zipper of the big purple bag and grab my second (heavier) raincoat and replace it with a pair of heels. Because you just never know…