I have spent a lifetime being "The Answer Man".
For over a quarter century, my career has been based on my ability to know something that others didn't and to successfully teach it. Economics, world history, American history, politics, geography, basketball, tennis, how to write a clear and original thought, red wine or white with that meal, and on and on. No matter the topic, it was my job "to know". And not just to know, but to know "on demand" - at a moment's notice. Ask me a question, and if I didn't know the answer immediately, I would duck into the phone booth of my mind, slip on my "Know It All" cape and "Research Ranger" utility belt, and leap back with the answer (or at least pretend that I had it!)
Curiosity. Being willing to ask the right questions. To want to wander (and wonder) in the wilderness of what I don't know. To be willing to let go of the belief that "I am Perfect" (or that I have to be), and let it be replaced by the fact that, in one way or another, Life is always PERFECTING me - if I'll let it.
This whole train of thought was sparked today by a simple question that popped into my head at class. The question was: "What's the difference between being naturally at peace with one's Self, with the Moment, and being asleep, completely unaware of the Moment or myself?". I hadn't gotten up to speak at class for awhile and I wanted to explore why. What was keeping me in my seat? Was I genuinely at peace with the moment, quietly being Present (as my mind told me)? Or was I asleep, trying to avoid being disturbed? Scared that "The Answer Man" might not be there if I dared to raise my hand?
One question. Which led to another. And then to another. And when no answer came rushing in, I tried to simply stay open - to continue to wander in the wilderness of not knowing. One small step at a time. Not looking for the answer; not trying to fashion an answer for myself. But waiting for it to be given to me. Even when a part of me wanted to scurry back to the campfire of what it knew, or wanted to dismiss the question as silly, I stayed. In the dark. Waiting for an answer. And boy, did Life deliver, in the form of Guy's talk.
Guy's whole talk surged through me, flooding me with insights. But this one thing he said summed up the heart of it all:
"You can't protect something and perfect it at the same time....The pain of always trying to protect yourself is born of the fear of being seen as imperfect...Your problem is you believe that you are "perfect", as you are, instead of BEING perfected, constantly by Life."
Wow. There it was. Even though Guy hadn't used the words "peace" or "asleep" that were in my question, there in his talk was the answer.
Peace is found in Self-knowledge. The degree to which I'm willing to pursue that self-knowledge is the evidence of whether I'm at peace with myself, with Life, or whether I'm asleep and resisting Life.
If I'm willing to ask a question...to take a step in a new direction, and then be willing to see whatever's revealed, then I'm allowing Life to perfect me. If all I want to do is "know the answer" already...to set up camp right where I'm comfortable, then I believe "I'm perfect". And fear will be the only product of that belief.
Peace is a relationship; not a destination or something achieved. It is a willingness to be perfected, to not try to be perfect. It's all about the questions we're willing to ask about ourselves, and about having the courage to throw away the armor of the old answers we've always given ourselves or accepted. And I can see now that there's only one way to experience that relationship, that peace.
I have to take a step. I have to act. I have to do something new and likely uncomfortable. I have to stop trying to be "The Answer Man" - for others or for myself.
"The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life....It is enough if one merely tries to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity." (Albert Einstein)
My wish is to add a little more holy curiosity to my day. Practice asking questions again, not simply accepting the answers given me, especially when I'm feeling anxious or irritated. Who know what "Pearls" I might find if I did?