This morning, an email from a high school senior at the other end of the state asked if I (and 27 others) might be willing to answer time-to-time questions about morality. He described himself as a theology student and his email address suggested he was part of a philosophy club or something similar.
My answer was, "sure."
But then I began to wonder -- why should the answer be "sure?" True, it was my knee-jerk reaction -- I'd be willing to help anyone in any way I could based on my own experience -- but why "sure?" Others I know would brush aside such requests: They are too busy or too advanced or too experienced in the dead-end roads that lie ahead. But I seem to be hard-wired to say yes to any direct request and this morning it strikes me as a bit odd.
OK ... so someone is interested in something that interests me. OK ... so I feel a debt to those who have likewise helped me in the past. OK ... so I have some sense that an honest question carries with it an imperative to answer ... not to be right or aggrandize my status, but just to answer. But imperative? What imperative? I really don't know.
Somewhere or other, there is a picture of picture of Joshu Sasaki Roshi with the words (as I recall): "I am 100 years old. My ears no longer hear stupid questions." In remembering this, I am not trying to lay claim to some vaunted status. Rather, I am interested in the "no longer hear stupid questions."
I am no where near that pinnacle.
The other night, a very funny woman comedian made a couple of modest proposals. One was the creation of the "Save A Ho Foundation" -- an institution dedicated to young women who watch TV as a means of elevating their own sexiness and then wear clothing that displays not so much sexiness as slutishness. The other was an invitation to say to others what we might really think: "What the fuck is the matter with you?!"
I found myself agreeing with both propositions. I am sick to death of hooker couture passing for character and beauty and my ears do hear stupid questions, especially from those who have a perfectly good plate of food in front of them but insist on asking someone else how it tastes, will it be good, what if I throw up, what if I become attached ... oh I am so confused. "What the fuck is the matter with you?" Just eat it and find out.
But an honest question honestly posed ... that's refreshing and elicits a "sure" before I have time to think. I may rue the day later and find myself faced with all sorts of dithering philosophy ... but for the moment, dithering philosophy may be a very good entrance into something serious and useful. Only later, when the table is set and the food has arrived, do I get testy and irritable and want to say, "What the fuck's the matter with you?!"
But speaking of dithering, here I sit dithering ... no closer than when I started to finding out why or how the word "sure" rolls off my tongue before my mind has a chance to think it.
Sure. It's serious, for me ... but I have no clue as to why that might be and I am stuck asking myself,
"What the fuck's the matter with you?!"
Maybe that's a reasonable bit of help as well.