On learning to love the questions

In a previous post, I spoke about how this fall has been a time of being plunged into a whirlpool of questions.

There are questions about personal career choice as law school begins to come to an end (even almost two years away, as graduation is, these questions loom ever closer). Do I love direct legal services, or international women’s rights and access to justice — or as is more likely both? Am I pursuing my dream or am I giving them up for something more comfortable, less challenging? Am I abandoning my biggest hopes for fear, once again — or am I actually pursuing what I love most?

And there are also questions about effectiveness. What is the most effective strategy to combat violence against women? Does direct legal aid help, and if so, how much? What about legal trainings of lawyers and judges? And public interest litigation? And legal awareness trainings in communities?  Is the focus on judicial system strengthening needed or is it myopic in its ultimate goal? What about holistic legal & social services — does it actually make as great an impact as I think, and hope? Many of these questions come down to: how do I find what to dedicate my life to — what makes the most impact, and also what makes me come alive the most? I wish I knew the answers immediately. And yet, sometimes they seem more elusive than ever. Not knowing the answers immediately and intimately often seems to cause me the most frustration.

Yet, I recently came across these words by Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, which helped to drastically change my outlook:

I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to 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. Perhaps indeed you carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly pure and blessed kind of life; train yourself for it — but take what comes in complete trust. – Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet

And on enduring a state of doubt:

To be genuinely thoughtful, we must be willing to sustain and protract that state of doubt which is the stimulus to thorough enquiry, so as not to accept an idea or make a positive assertion of a belief, until justifying reasons have been found.

And so, here I am — trying to take these lessons to heart. I am trying to, instead of demanding myself to arrive at an immediate answer, learning to love the journey of exploration and of navigating through these questions. Ultimately, it means following my heart in the moment, rather than demanding ultimate explanations. It is about eschewing ultimatums and learning to love the questions, the process of finding oneself, the learning gained from each step, and slowly, but surely, getting closer to the answers.

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3 Responses to On learning to love the questions

  1. Eileen says:

    I love this Akhila! I’m finding myself so unexpectedly with similar career/life/happiness questions, so this really resonates. Thanks for sharing!

    • Akhila says:

      Thank you Eileen! I am glad to hear it resonates with you — I think it definitely brings me peace to think about loving this process too, as difficult as it may be, of questioning. Otherwise, we miss life simply looking for the ultimate answers. Learning to love the process is loving the journey.

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