When I was an undergraduate, I often used to ask the “what” questions. As I was a Physics major, most of the puzzles were Physics-related. What is a mass? What is energy? What is space? What is time? There were other questions, of course, like what is life and what is love. I was wont to argue for many hours about these profound issues with my friends. We strolled along the river banks, we drank beer, we weathered the cold winter wind, we smiled at the cherry blossoms No matter what we did, we never stopped asking the “what” questions.
Almost 30 years later, it seems that my mind is nowadays mostly occupied by the “how” questions. How can I make this happen? How could one construct something? How do you bring about peace among these people? How are sustainable energies generated in principle? How can I make the person in front of me understand what I mean? How do you enrich life?
It is certainly true that the “how” questions are more practical, leading one to endless endeavors in the everyday towards the betterment of the general conditions of life in general. From the point of view of maturing, the progress from the “what” questions to the “how” questions was surely an advancement.
And yet, I sometimes find myself missing the “what” questions. I miss the pale-faced youngster who insisted on asking these simple-minded, but fascinating questions. I long for an encounter with someone who is stupid enough to ask the “what” questions, in this day and age.
Perhaps, if I dig deep into myself, I will still be able to find that youngster. Just a thought. It is such a fine day in Tokyo, a good opportunity for reveries, you know.