Questions Without Answers

Food for Thought @ Freemans

It’s easy to see that living for the dream of retirement is problematic; what if you die before then? But if not for that dream, what should one live for? That is the question we pondered over brunch at Freemans.

What is peculiar about this question is that asking of it signifies the lack of an answer. This type of question is relatively common; it’s not just for the purpose of life.

Let’s say you are on vacation, kicking back on a beach chair, sipping on a cocktail, looking out onto the blue ocean. Would you ask yourself, “What is the point of doing this?” You might say, “Isn’t it obvious?” Well, it’s not obvious to me. You might say, “It’s to relax,” but if the point is simply to relax, it makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars, because the stress from working to save those dollars would cancel out any relaxation you achieve. Besides, what is the point of relaxing? To be able to work again?

In this manner, if you logically questioned anything you enjoy, you would be hard-pressed to find the purpose. You are not doing it for anything. If you are asking yourself what the purpose is, it means there is no answer. Raising the question precludes an answer. Instead of figuring out what the answer is, you might as well stop doing it. And, as long as the question does not occur to you, you should keep doing it.

But just because the question does not arise, doesn’t mean you are enjoying it. This happens when you are doing something that you know you should enjoy. For instance, relaxing on the beautiful beach is supposed to be enjoyable, so the possibility that you might not be enjoying it is unthinkable. Sometimes on Instagram, people share photos of themselves doing supposedly enjoyable activities in order to convince themselves, through likes and envious comments of their friends, that they are enjoying them. But signs of enjoyment don’t give you real satisfaction.

On the other hand, you can enjoy supposedly mundane and tedious things you do every day. It requires a certain type of self-observation to notice them. If you do notice them, don’t ask what the point is. Nobody on Instagram would envy you, but you will feel satisfied.