Unasked, Unsaid, Undone
Words unasked, thoughts unsaid and projects undone. How many times have we left a meeting or social event saying, I wish I had asked that question! Or, I wish I done that! Hindsight is 20/20 but there are times in our life where we are given the time to practice foresight with questions to ask.
This has happened recently in our family with the double whammy of caring for both parents. I am grateful for more time with them, but I’m now in the mode of coming up with questions to ask because I’m not sure how much time will be left to do so. I want to know more of why my father entered the service. Was he drafted into the air force? Why did he enter engineering when he wanted to fly planes? What finally prompted him to start owning and flying his own plane when my sisters and I were growing up?
There’s an art to crafting questions to ask and I’m seeking to develop and grow that skill. When preparing for interviews, it’s helpful to gain enough information to be able to ask why, but how do we go even further? The facts and details behind the façade of a bio or review can reveal particulars that are not only fascinating, but inspirational.
Senator John S. McCain III
Senator John S. McCain III, who recently succumbed to brain cancer, was held captive five and a-half years in North Vietnam. In reading his penned account of his captivity, he emphasized that communication was vital for survival. Even a wave, a wink or tap on the wall made all the difference when in solitary confinement. When reviewing the gruesome account of his internment and the way the guards treated him, I thought of a few more questions to ask. I wondered how he could resist the brutal beatings and interrogations. As I read on, he wrote of the reason. When down to 105 lbs., he said prayer helped. He asked for moral and physical courage, guidance and wisdom to do the right thing. It was interesting that he wrote about prayer and not just positive thinking.
When our boys were growing up, we had the opportunity of a photo op with Senator McCain in Washington D.C. when he was walking in front of the Capitol building. We paused as we weren’t sure of the rules and then the moment was gone as he walked away. Looking back, I wish we had that picture! It would constantly be a reminder to our sons of the amount of tenacity and fortitude it took to go from being a prisoner of war to a Senator, then a candidate for President of the United States. McCain never stopped, even after being released. How did he have the strength to do that when so many that face much less quit and give up? I'm glad I was able to read about part of that reason.
What Can You Give?
I never had the chance to ask that question personally of McCain, but from his writing realized he had a strong faith that helped him persevere and survive. As I'm thinking more of questions to ask my father, I've gained some extra opportunities to hear of his faith when brining my small keyboard to play hymns in his home. I can sit across from him and see him mouth the words. The short conversaations between songs have helped me gain additional insight into his life, well-lived. I don’t want to have regrets leaving this small gift of music that I can provide undone, especially as it opens the door for additional questions to ask. It is truly a joy to see his enjoyment.
In the same way, I also don’t want to leave my ideas dormant because I’ve not asked what it will take to put on a new event. Or not encouraged those who would benefit to attend. Or not remaining vigilant to pursue the opportunities and dreams I feel I’m called to do. I want to live my life with questions asked, words said and dreams done.