Pacer Notes: Never stop asking questions
Ah, spring. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping... and the sweet flower of senioritis is in full bloom.
In my English class the other day, our teacher told us to write down any question we wanted, which would be used for a writing activity later in class. I was thrilled; imagine the variety of questions everyone would ask! Imagine how fascinating our discussion would be!
After sitting there for a few minutes, considering various topics, I finally came up with a good question: why do we wear socks? The day before, after track practice, my feet had been hurting, and I was wondering whether or not my socks were supposed to prevent that from happening. Also, I suddenly couldn't for the life of me understand why some socks only go up to the ankle, while others go up to the calves.
I later discovered that the question was supposed to be about the book we were reading, and my hopes for a creative discussion promptly vanished. Senioritis strikes again!
But a few days later, in the midst of a 5-hour long bus ride back from a faraway track meet, I began to think about the incident through a different lens. As I had sat in class, trying to come up with something creative to talk about, I had realized that I honestly had no idea what purpose socks serve. For something so mundane and commonplace to be a complete mystery to me begs yet another question: how is it that we know so little about the things that happen all around us?
Why is it that brake lights are red, headlights are white and turn signals are orange? Why do some flowers bloom earlier in the spring than others? Why do we make so much of our furniture out of wood, and not some other, less-flammable material? Why are there 24 hours in a day? Why is it so much harder to write with colored pencils than with a normal pencil?
All of these questions have answers, certainly, but I would be hard pressed to give exact responses to any of them. To be honest, that scares me a little. It's incredible to think about how little we truly know about the world around us and the tremendous amount of detail inherent in every piece of our surroundings. While the questions above may seem silly, they represent just the tip of an iceberg of knowledge we have little access to, knowledge hidden from us by our own inability to ask or answer "trivial" questions.
To be fair, I don't think my lack of sock-related knowledge is a terrible weight on my life and/or intelligence. But for the next few weeks, and hopefully for as long as possible, I'm going to try and start asking myself these questions. When I notice that some curbs are perpendicular to the road surface and some are sloped, I'll ask my-
self why that happens. If I throw a Frisbee and it crashes to the ground instead of flying straight, I'll wonder about the role launch angle plays in Frisbee aerodynamics.
The more questions you ask, the better equipped you will be to deal with the world, even if the answers to your questions seem rather meaningless. Knowledge, in any form, is a powerful tool. Our questions determine our worldview, and our worldview determines, on a fundamental level, how we live our lives. And in our pursuit of answers, we may one day stumble upon something fantastic, something that changes our whole perspective on life. How's that for a "trivial" question?
In the next few weeks, I may achieve never-before-seen levels of knowledge, or I may learn a bunch of useless facts about curbs and Frisbees. Either way, one thing remains certain: putting on a pair of socks will never feel quite the same.
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