A week out from the end of my writing challenge of writing the question “what do I really want?” I land on my face in the dirt and lose my grip on the question.
My question makes me tired. My waiting and wanting make me tired. I don’t know what I want because it keeps changing and bucking me off. I sit dazed and unsteady each time I land with a smack on the ground. I get back onto my question, my mad cow, my holy cow of wanting.
I try to milk my holy cow. But its milk is sour and I spit out the taste of my wanting, swagger (I’m still wearing my cowboy boots) back to my comfort zone. The cow wanders off, it wont be tamed or walk nicely into my future to greener pastures.
I sit in the dust rubbing my sore bones and watch her go. And I wonder if I’ve been chasing the wrong question.
I watch the herd of questions grazing nearby. There is a small heifer over near the creek where the grass is greener. I haven’t seen her before. She looks different to the other lumbering beasts. She chews the grass delicately, flicking her tail occasionally and scattering the speckled blanket of flies on her golden rump. She looks content.
I move closer. I’m curious. I don’t try to catch her, or ride her or milk her, I only watch. I lie with my belly against the cool grass and rest my head on my arms and look through the blades of green to see her moving quietly.
What is this question I wonder. This is my right question…..
I must have fallen asleep because I wake to a soft tearing sound close to my ear, grass being ripped from the earth and chewed wetly. I can feel the warm milky cow breath on my face and look up into two dark pools of cow eyes, like liquid curiosity.
I sit up and rub my eyes. I wonder which of these is my right question. I can see the tough hide of my, “what do I really want?” question with that renegade look in her eye. As I watch she lifts her tail and a stream of dark lumpy liquid flows from her and forms a pile, like a steaming pie on the ground, splashing her ankles and flies gather in delight. I smile and turn back to the nearer beasts.
And I realise that I’ve been chasing, riding, milking – or trying to anyway – the wrong question. Now I’m left with a handful of horsetail (yeah I know but it sounds better) and a lot of sticky flies but no answers. Because there are no answers, only questions to live into and they keep changing. That’s the really irritating thing about the brain, the psyche, this human Nature it is always changing.
What did I learn from my go nowhere question writing, my holy cow adventure?
I learnt what I have learnt before and obviously will have to learn again and again, just what I said, there are no answers only questions. Better and better questions, right questions for right times. But if I wait to find the right question before I leap in I will never start.
My advice to myself and perhaps to you if you’re open to advice is this:
Don’t just sit there waiting to find the right question-write question, begin writing, and write into the unknown. Jump on any passing holy cow and start writing. Let it take you.
But don’t think it is the one and only holy cow. When it keeps bucking you off and you feel like you’re going around in circles, look closer and listen, lean in (but watch out for the cow pats), sniff the air (again watch out) and slowly you might find something else emerging quietly, like a slippery pink nose from within the belly of the cow. A small pink nosed calf with big wide eyes full of wonder and a bigger and more beautiful question that can inspire you and take you somewhere new.
Hard here not to borrow from one of the greatest minds and poets, Goethe:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back…. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth …. that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream (just watch out it’s not warm and smelling of cow) of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents (new knowing), which no man (or woman) could have dreamed would have come his (her) way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Yes I know he is talking about doing stuff. But I think the more important thing is to get onto a question. And keep leaning into it. But don’t wait until you think you have the right question just begin.
Leap upon your holy cow question and let it take your where it will, and know that another quest (question) is waiting for you over the horizon.