I sometimes look through the collection of quotes I gathered in many notebooks and on scraps of paper. The following caught my eye today:
“The value of the question depends on the answer.”
I heard it at an IT conference in London, in June 2008. I don’t remember who said it, but I remember hurrying to write it down on a folded paper sheet of the hotel hosting the event.
I am often nervous to put a question. If questioning goes easily, that is, if the answering person gives me a feeling that I have put a good question, then I tend to “over-question” and bombard the others with questions. This is followed by feeling resistance of those who answer and my consequential withdrawing from putting questions. And then again from the beginning.
Contemplation about this quote made me conclude that persons, whom I valued most in the past and those I value today, made and make my questions meaningful by their answers. They made and make me feel that what I said and say matters.
My father was the most prominent in this array of my personal heroes. He was a true listener. And I loved going with questions to him. His answers were always extensive and given without hurry. But also to the point. He had an instinct how much answer was needed.
When I think of those I know and interact with today, my niece and my son are the first who come to my mind, who find my questions intriguing and make me feel good upon asking them. And I love the fact that both of them are much younger than me. I learn a lot from these two sweet people. They do laugh sometimes at what I say, but I notice again and again how they stop and contemplate upon the questions I put. My son has not lost yet the ability to find everything new and worth considering. And my niece, in her mid-twenties, has kept it. While observing, listening and learning from them, I am rediscovering my ability to do the same.
And here is a quote, I discovered in German and translated into English, so, it might not be identical with the original. It confirms that children and young people might be ones of the wisest among us. Because of their ability to make experiences and to wonder.
“Die Weisheit eines Menschen misst man nicht nach seinen Erfahrungen, sondern nach seiner Fähigkeit, Erhafungen zu machen“.
“Human wisdom is not measured by a person’s experiences, but by his ability to experience.” George Bernard Shaw.
Picture: My father (the first from the right) with his students at the University of Annaba, in Algeria (around 1980). Students loved him. My guess, also due to his answers and his ability to discover and to experience the brilliance of the others.