The Questions I’m Living With

“It is a relief to know that I can hold a question and not be looking for answers. I can just hold the question, caress it, carry it, tuck it under my arm, slip it in my backpack, stick it inside my pillowcase, sleep on it, let it go, play table tennis with it, cook it for dinner, eat it sprinkled on my soup or salad, blend it in a smoothie, cream it between my toes, splash it behind my ears, stick it in my bathing cap, take it with me to the pool, stick it in the children’s bedtime stories, pet Tyson with it, send it off to be recycled, love it, hate it, ignore it, discard it, cherish it, let it whisper, let it roar. It is there in my life no matter what I do and I don’t have to DO anything about it. There is no rush, no hurry, no train to catch, no last inning, to timer counting down to the final finale. I can take it with me to New Jersey or leave it at home. I can talk about it or not talk about it, play it on the piano, try like mad to solve it and be miserable or let it be and go on with life. Whether the answer comes or not and how it comes is none of my business. I don’t need to know. The question is not mine to answer. It is mine to live with.”

–Laura Davis, writing practice, July 2004

Make a list of the questions you’re living with. They can be questions you want to answer as well as questions you don’t want to answer, questions you freely acknowledge or questions that you can barely admit in your own heart. Spend 20-30 minutes working on this list of questions, until you start tapping into questions you didn’t know you had, questions that inform you, surprise you or come up from the depths. Repeat this exercise six months or a year from now. Watch how your questions change over time.


  1. Sunny Shaw says

    I have only one, but it offers itself every day. Did I do the Right Thing? Other questions are side-notes and hobbies.

    My 13-yr-old daughter asked me last night, “Mommy, when are you coming?”. I told her I would be there in June.

    “Mom, that’s not what I’m asking… when are you coming here to stay?”.

    I don’t have an answer; what should I say? As soon as I can? When I find a job there and a place to live and a way to take care of my father and, and, and? That’s not an answer for her. How can I explain to her that I’m stuck here in Texas without implicating (including her) anyone?

    I gave my dog away today.

    Back to “did I do the Right Thing?”.

  2. The Other Laura says

    What is the pine cones’s secret?

    Why do weeds grow so fast?

    How much longer will these wind chimes sing?

    Will you remember this?

    How did this tree trunk split and then twine?

    Why so many shades of green?

    How can the morning be so still and quiet?

    What, what is that bird trying to say?

    Can you keep a secret?

    What will happen to the egg that doesn’t hatch?

    • says

      Dear Other Laura,

      I loved your list! I’ve been doing this prompt in my writing classes all week and so many of the questions we came up with were introspective. Yours were refreshing and lively! Thanks for posting!

  3. Loren says

    what’s for dinner?
    when will I be free from this place?
    what’s the future hold?
    what will my 8 month son be like when he’s older?
    how can I make my son’s life ok?
    what am I not doing?
    why can’t I eat and drink all I want?
    did you kiss the clock and make a wish when it turned 2:22?

  4. Cecily says

    My pain is my companion. We have grown to love each other, a long married couple. I accept my companion’s surly disposition and bad timing. He comes mostly at night, and on cloudy days, slithering over to me with an unpleasant heat. I used to hide from him around my house, in the refrigerator, the bath tub, under my covers… but he would always win, even if it took until 3 a.m. Now, I no longer hide. I open my arms and let him slither onto my lap and curl up on my chest. I cover us with a blanket. Sometimes we watch tv. Other times we stare at the ceiling together. Lovers forever.

  5. vickie says

    sorry I hit the wrong button: a continuation.

    Where are the clouds going in such a hurry?
    Who was the first to say “when pigs fly”?
    Why does cheese cake have to be a dessert?
    Who are the ( they) we always hear about and what makes them such experts?
    When is good, enough?
    Do bugs know they are bugs?
    Why does a bubble bath feel so good?
    Why do we need so many words to say the same thing?
    Why are things that feel, taste and smell bad, good for you?
    Can birds tell the difference between cats and dogs?
    How can something so beautiful be so devastating, like fire?
    Why are children in such a hurry to grow up?
    Do bugs have a home or are they on an endless journey?
    Where do creative ideas come from?
    Why do we daydream?

  6. gloria humphrey says

    Did I miss something?
    Did I let a good guy get away?
    Can I make up for lost time?
    Where is everybody?
    Where is the mother duck taking her ducklings-does she know some are missing?
    When did I break my nail?
    Why do ants bring dirt beds in the house-getting tired of sweeping them..
    Can I get a break from myself?

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