It was a regular catch-up session. We decided long ago to pencil the time into our diaries. Thirty minutes without a planned agenda. The plan was to review current business events and whatever was topical. As I began to wrap up my key points the bluntness of the interruption caught me off guard.
“Enough about business. How are you doing? How are you personally?”
We have known each other for a long time. We are friends that have shared the journey. We have a lot of time and respect for the other. It is a good relationship that allows for candid conversations. Yet, the bluntness of the question caught me off guard. On what level was he asking? Where were we going with this?
Direct questions are often the best ones. For me, they focus my thoughts. I may or may not answer the question, yet the reflection is always helpful. How do I answer the question knowing what I know?
Kids, friends, and wise ones often ask direct questions. They seem to have a natural curiosity that ignores custom. One writer responded to a letter by publically echoing the question. “Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations?” (1 Corinthians 7.1) Whatever followed had to be a answer. Directness has an internal beauty with its ability to strip away pretense and ambiguity. The answer obviously links or it is seen as a non-answer.
Life often asks me to answer blunt questions. Do I believe in compassion? If yes, is it a yes that is strong enough to make it real when life is difficult? Do I believe that all human beings stand as equals? If yes, am I willing to make this a reality when it is not convenient?
Life offers us a choice – we can engage directly or live on the edge. If we want to live, it means that we will wrestle with the uncertainties. We will take life on and live! Our contribution is full, honest engagement.