What Then?

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“They went from world to world,

and each time they lost the world they left, 

lost it in time dilation, their friends

getting old and dying while they were in NAFAL flight.

If there were a way to live in their own time,

and yet move among the worlds,

they wanted to try it. …

(Ursula LeGuin, “The Shubies’ Story”)

I envisioned. Wrote, edited,published, prepared for the Big Move, left… to live my dream, Now! Arrived at one place, then searched for the next. Found it. A refuge for me and my pet family. Moving, again.

But, why all this? Or as W. B. Yeats once asked:

“What Then?”

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true –
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and Wits about him drew;
What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

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I once posed a similar or perhaps it was the same question to a Philosopher, my college mentor, Dr Antoinette Patterson in Buffalo, NY.  I was glum that day.

“So, what?”

I asked Toni in her office, there for an independent study session on a topic we had agreed to, the ‘philosophy of Silence’. 

“Take out a pencil and a piece of paper, and write down

two words and a question mark:

So   What ?   Your assignment by next week

is to answer that question.”

Bemused by my mentor’s response to what I thought was a futile question, I went off to seek for answers.  I read an essay by Emerson called “The Transparent Eyeball” and many poems and essays about silence, thinking somehow that must connect. Who was I beyond my embodied personality; what was Life beyond the day to day back and forth of conversations and classes?

When I went back to Toni’s office for our session that next Wednesday, she was waiting for me. After I shared about what I had been reading and journaling about, having not really answered the question at all, she took me to a far corner of her office where she had set up a card table with a large, empty sheet of sketch paper she had laid across it. She had me write “WH-” words on every corner of the page:

What? 

Why?                                            Where?

When?

Dr. P. then used a pencil to draw connections between these WH- words, allowing the  lines of connection to intersect at the center of the page where she drew a blank circle and wrote in that space one word:

W  H  A  N

There before us on the page was our answer to the proverbial question.

So What?

Whan.

In that moment in that office on that one day, nothing seemed clearer than that one discovery: the answer to every question about meaning or purpose, about Why/ Where/ When/ What resolves to a singular unity: WHAN!

As we discussed what is WHAN, I realized it meant not to worry about Why? or what Matters. Life IS, therefore life is meaningful of Itself alone; and no amount of thinking or wishing or proving or disproving would ever have any effect upon that which simply IS. Whan! and so Life flows forth and I must with it, wherever It may lead.

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images are from pixabay.com

So this is my monthly Better Endings life question to answer for myself this February:

What Then?

I sense this is the natural follow-up question to the discovery of Whan!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments. I encourage you to form a personal monthly question to explore with your dreams and contemplation this month.

4 thoughts on “What Then?

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