Simple Questions

Too often in life we believe there is a simple answer for everything. Some believe that the simplest answer is most probably the right one. And, in some cases, that is true. But the more we learn, as created beings, the more we discover that this created realm in which we live is far more wondrous and sophisticated than we ever could have imagined.

Take gravity, for example; before Einstein who would have imagined that is was due to the curvature of space?!? Or, that before Watson & Crick, all life is based on a double helix molecular strand, our Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), that encodes the development of all life? Or, that, before Howard Gardner, there were different forms of intelligence, not measurable by standardized IQ tests? (Visual Kinesthetic, for one.)

In studying human nature the jury is still out. Are we basically good, evil, or a mixture of both? Can our human nature change? Can our basic personality change? None of these are simple questions, nor do they have simple answers.

Nonetheless, we crave simple answers. Why? Because complicated, complex answers are too much work. We’ve become a people whose lives are so complicated and busy that having to deal with anymore complication is just too much! If the questions were simpleother people would already have provided the simple answers. The reality of the matter is— that for every complex, complicated question, there is a complex, complicated answer; which, sometime, can be boiled down to a v-e-r-y simple answer. Sometimes. Not all the time.

The point is that we need to face both the difficult, convoluted questions, as well as the ones that resolve simply. When we initially face them, how can we know which is which? Well, some questions scream complication. With other questions, the answer seems obvious. So do we give up when the simple answer turns out to have more facets than we originally thought? I would hope not. [Please note, though—this comes from a man who does not hesitate to ask for directions. After earning five graduate degrees I have come to understand just how little I know or understand.]

During my doctoral pursuit I was rewarded with this fortune cookie at Panda East—Nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished without passion. This seems a good axiom to follow when it comes to questions. Simple question: hard question. What difference does it make?!? It is all about discovering the riddles of life and the universe to make more sense of our own lives. What do we have to lose! Certainly not faith; faith is the energy we run on as we seek those answers we believe are out there, somewhere. Trust God. Dig in. Don’t give up.

Have a nice week,

Gary

How do I cut cheese?

Recently we had a guest in our home who assisted in the preparation of an hors d’oeuvre plate for a small soiree. The assortment of offerings was quite delectable to say the least. But I became somewhat concerned when our guest, newly sharpened Wüsthof paring knife in hand, asked, “How do I cut cheese?” My concern increased to astonishment after I deftly relieved her of possession of the knife and replaced it with a cheese- slicer, which she fixedly studied with that “what’s this thing” sort of intensity.

The conclusions elicited from her question led me to the following observations.

  1. She came from extreme wealth and therefore had, truly, never actually cut cheese in her life because the kitchen help or chefs were responsible for such menial tasks.
  2. This was a ploy to get someone else to cut the cheese for her.
  3. Her planet did not have cheese or knives, let alone cheese slicers.
  4. She had just been released from the asylum where “residents” were not allowed to play with knives, nor would they ever come in contact with a cheese slicer.

The impressive thing was the unpretentious, pleasing, and direct manner in which she asked. She seemed neither embarrassed nor unashamed. (Though I did notice her face develop a peculiar reddish tint as the question left her lips.) Whether from naïveté or ignorance, her query was most appropriate. That alone is an inspiring, notable, and extraordinary feat in our self-dependent, independent, and improper society.

Why can’t more of us be like our unassuming, knife-relieved house guest? You don’t know something, or don’t know how to do something— ask. Is it truly that difficult? Do we assume that everyone on the planet comes out of the womb with the knowledge of how to cut cheese, how to insert a shoe-string through a hole, how to add or subtract? Let alone the exploratory skills to map the sequencing of DNA double helix?

Some of the more challenging questions I’ve had to ask—

  1. How do I tie a Windsor knot?
  2. How do determine which god is God?
  3. What is the cleanest way to change the oil in my car? (there isn’t one, by the way)
  4. How do I determine the criteria for choosing the one I would marry?
  5. How do I cook steak properly? (medium-rare, of course)
  6. What am I supposed to be doing in this phase of my life?
  7. Why do different cheeses need different methods for cutting?

So, really, how do I cut cheese, or choose a spouse, or grill a perfect steak, or find God? The important thing is that asking questions is the simplest way to learn. Investigating and questioning then leads to richer understanding and deeper knowledge of cheese and everything else.

Have a cheesy week,

Gary