the interesting idea... the start of this project... the conversations to come

I'm a member of Post Crossing, the internet site for postcard exchange. I sent a card to another Post Crosser, Ilona from Germany. She asked that people tell her which magical power they would like to have. Her question really made me think!

In turn, I thought it would be an interesting project to ask people to pose Thought-Provoking Questions. I would do my best to answer with my opinion, and I would encourage others to add theirs.

And, so was born this blog! I hope that it will be the home for many interesting conversations in the year ahead!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still wondering...

On Friday, October 22, we were asked this very same question. I still hope to answer "you're right: now."

Oh. What's the question?

If not now, when?

Lost and found department

So, I learned in science class that you can't really DESTROY matter... it's got to "go" someplace. Therefore, whenever anyone says to me "I've lost 10 pounds..." I reply, "oh, they're not lost; I've got 'em right here." I never seem to have any problem at all FINDING weight... it's the losing of it that gets me!

And, so Kathryn's question fits right in...

Why is so easy to put on weight but so very difficult to lose it again?

Pernicious creatures, those fat cells.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I hope so! (again, but different)

Nastya, from Belarus, asks

They say, "where there's hope, there's life." Is it really important to have this hope?

I hope so! Else, why would we ever love anyone, do anything, feel anything? Hope drives it all!

Sports or Smarts?

Lisa, from not too far away from me in Maryland (and who sent a card from Baltimore, where the Baltimore Ravens play football), asks:

Why are major league baseball rookies getting multi-million dollar signing bonuses when our nation's teachers are getting low salaries, having to buy their own classroom supplies, and work in crumbling down school buildings?

I'm sure you've seen those comic illustrations where a devil sits on a person's left shoulder whispering into on ear while an angel sits on the right, whispering something else. I feel a little like this with this question!

On one hand, I too want teachers to be well-paid, well-supplied, and well-employed. I wish our nation's school buildings were all up-to-date, creative, well-designed structures with the features that high-tech sports stadiums have. On the other hand, I rather applaud the young athlete who has figured out a way to parlay physical strength, agility, and skill into a rewarding career. We have always showered the young, fit, and able with accolades.

Can we balance a little better? I'd like to think so.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Little Life

I have a little life. I know I do. I am not a world-changer, a disease-curer, a paradigm-setter. So, when Jana, from the Czech Republic asks

What's the purpose of your life?

I reply, "to leave my little corner of the world a little better off than the way I found it." If we EACH did that....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Do we ever really know what's good for us?

On the only card I've received from Moldova - and quite a lovely card it is - appears this question:

What association arises for you from the photo on the card?

At first, I felt the warmth of the sun as it touched the leaves and stem of the tulip. Then I wondered if the photo had actually been printed using a reversal process so that it appeared the way a negative would because the flower was bending away from the light. In life, wouldn't it bend toward the light?

And then I thought how much this little photo illuminates the foolish actions we sometimes perform when we turn away from something that is good for us and that keeps us well. Deep, I know. All from a little tulip.

All we have going for us are opposable thumbs!

Mirabelle from France asks to ponder this:

Can animals be superior to humans and if so, in what ways?

Let's see... humans can't run as fast as the fastest animal, are not as strong as the strongest animal, can't see as well in the dark as the keenest-sighted animal, can't smell hardly anything at all, can't leap as high nor swim as deep...

All that prevents the cats in this household from piling me onto the trash heap like the useless waste of resources that I am is my ability to OPEN A CAN OF CAT FOOD! As long as I can do that, I figure I am safe!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trust me. I'm not lying. Really

Hanna, from Sweden, wants to know:

Should you always speak the truth?

I remembered an article I'd read that said we're practically incapable of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In fact, in one experiment, approximately 60% of the participants told at least one lie, and these lies cropped up in conversation as short at 10 minutes.

Would I lie to you about that?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Every little thing gonna be all right

At least I hope so!

This card asks its question on the front and back:

Is everything OK?

The little critter looks so worried; I just want to reassure him? her? that things are just fine. Really.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sealed with a...

Zullina asks a simple question:

Do you remember your first kiss?

And for it, I have a simple answer:

Oh, yes.

Meet me one more time?

Thomas, a patient Post Crosser from Germany asks - on this lovely, elegant card...

Do you believe in different lives and a meet up with known souls/people in next or further ones? Can you imagine making an appointment with somebody you really love to spend another life with him/her again?

I have always tried to tell people I love that I love them. I hope I succeed. There are some, I know, who might not know how much they have meant to me. To meet them again, to tell them they mattered so very much is, for me, where the comfort of this question resides.


Natalia, from Portugal, simply says

How do you feel about my question?

Well, I'm not really sure!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

See Previous Question (and the one before that)!

Amy, on a postcard with art from one of my favorite artists (B. Kliban, famous for those cats!), asks:

If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

Peace (the previous message)

Love (the one before that)

The OTHER Perennial Puzzler

Love bewilders us, but so too does this question from Portugal:

When will there be peace on Earth?

Not soon enough for me,

Love... a perennial puzzler

From the Ukraine, Yulia wonders

Can the love between two people last a lifetime or die or transform into some other feelings?

Chris, from Hong Kong, seems to have one perspective on the issue:

I've heard a song that says, "the greatest thing you'd ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." How can I forget the one I love most in my life? She's gone...

Love, sometimes, is a harder problem to solve, a more difficult question to answer, than any other one I can think of.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In my next life...

I would like to be my own pet. I have two of the most incredibly pampered, well-fed, totally indulged cats you'd ever care to meet. And, that's what makes me think I know the answer to this question, from Taiwan:

I'm a person who loves animals very much and sometimes I'll wonder about whether keeping a pet is really good for them. If they could choose, would they choose to keep living with us?

I guess it does really depend on the animal, but I know that Boris and Natasha (the aforementioned pets) would have no idea how to hunt down a can of cat food in the wild, let alone skin it and eat it.

Multiple Choice!

Today, Annie from New Zealand presents a multiple choice question

Would you rather be world famous for

a) sport?

b) literature?

c) music?

d) beauty?

Can't I be a beautiful musician who has also written a novel about my years as a world champion athlete?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Cause... I just do!

Norberto, from Italy asks the following question:

Why do this way?

By that, I'm assuming he's asking "why do we do the things we do in the ways we do them?" Heavens above, but I wish I knew! Sometimes, I find myself in the middle of some activity and wonder how the heck I got there!

Practically or Magically?

Benjawan, from Thailand asks this:

If you can change something in your life, what do you want to change?

And I ask, practically? Meaning something I would actually have to DO, such as eat better, exercise more (ugh)? Or magically? Meaning something I could just wish for and have happen.

The magical part is easy: I'd like all the people I meet to come away from the meeting better off than they were before they met me; I'd like the same for me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I hope so!

Ghislaine, from Belgium wants to know:

Do the trades of Art have a place in our world?

I hope they do! And I think they do. This postcard is a perfect example: if all that was needed was a house number, then why bother designing the sign to look just so?

Cruciverbalists know

what Elroy, from the Netherlands wants to know:

What is the plastic thing at the end of a shoelace called?

It's an aglet, and we know that because it's often an answer. Now, you just have to figure out what a cruciverbalist is.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The Birdman, from Canada, asked

If you could, what kind of insect would you be?

I thought I would like to be a spider for all the extra hands with which I could work. That thought reminded me of a poem I wrote for a summer art project with kids (in which they imagined themselves to be animals).


An Octopus

I’d like to be an octopus.
You say that I’m delirious?
You shouldn’t make such a fuss!

Just think! I would have:

One arm to hold a class of juice
One arm to wrestle Cousin Bruce
One arm to pet Clyde the cat
One arm to hold on to my hat
One arm to bounce a basketball
One arm to take an important call
One arm to wave and tell you “hi!”
One arm that's just to say “goodbye!”

I’ll tell you plain: it follows thus
That to be an octopus
Is really quite felicitous!

Esperanto, anyone?

Vitor and Rose, from Brazil, wonder about communication:

If the whole world has to speak only one language and the chosen one wasn't yours, would you learn it?

I guess there'd be no choice... it almost seems that we are on the verge of that now. Languages are dying out at an astonishing rate, and English (in all its forms) rolls along like mad.

Now, here's a wrinkle on this thought: What if the chosen language were not a verbal one?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where in the world is Carmen Santiago... I mean, where am I?

From Krakow, in Poland comes this query...

If you have a chance to choose a country in which to be born one more time, which would it be?

Now, I could flatter this questioner and say "why, Poland, of course!" I could be patriotic and say, "why the one in which I live now, of course!"

But the honest truth is, I don't know. I don't know enough about the world to make a good choice! (One of the reasons I was drawn to Post Crossing was to learn more about the world; I'm not sure that I have enough learning yet to make a decision!)

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Whoa NO!

Sundrop asks this puzzler:

Why do we pay money to ride a roller coaster that makes us dizzy the rest of the day?

No, roller coasters for this kid, nohow, noway!

Once, m-a-n-y years ago (long enough ago that I was still allowing myself to be convinced to do something by a person I was dating!), I attended a carnival. Oh, but he wanted to go on that ride - I don't even know what it's called - that looks like a big drum that spins, rises into the air, and then tilts sideways. The centrifugal force keeps the riders pressed against the inner side of the drum!

Well, I timed the ride (three minutes, fifteen seconds - I could do that). I watched the ride for evidence of leaking oil, loose bolts, electric sparking (all good - the safety department should have hired me!). I observed the people getting off the ride (no one looked ill or as if a seizure was imminent).

OK, I'll go.

We climbed aboard, snapped ourselves into the compartment, and the ride started to spin. During the 7 years I was trapped in that diabolical chamber of centrifugal torture, the only thing I heard (besides the thundering of my heart as it threatened to depart from my chest) was my date, CHATTING UP THE GIRL ON HIS OTHER SIDE.

Never again. Never again to cylindrical drum carnival rides or other forms of fast-moving, terror-inducing "entertainment." Never again to agreeing to something my body still shakes at the thought of doing! And, in retrospect, I should have said "never again" to the jerk on the ride with me!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oooh! Ooooh! Pick Me! I Know!

After the last question, it's a pleasure to receive one I can actually answer! Julie, from the Finger Lakes region of New York state (here in the U.S.) asks,

How long did it take to build the Erie Canal?

Thank heaven for Wikipedia! There, I learned:

The Erie Canal was first proposed in 1807, it was under construction from 1817 to 1825 and officially opened on October 26, 1825

More than 8 million

Cathie, from Australia says,

I've alwas wondered why the Jewish people are always discriminated against. From the Holocaust and even up to now.

Entering "anti semitism" into the Google search engine yielded more than 8 MILLION hits. I wish one of them had an answer not just to Cathie's question but to the problem itself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If it weren't for bad luck

would you have no luck at all?

Heidi, from Finland wonders...

Why do some people have better luck in life than others?

I wish I knew.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Good Eats!

From Northern Alabama comes this question about food, quite timely as we approach the US holiday of Thanksgiving:

You are restricted to 5 items at the grocery store for your weekly meal plan. What do you choose?

I know some people would say milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and white and red wine!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


From Japan comes this wonderful question (and lovely handmade postcard):

If you describe feelings by colour, what colour(s) is the moment of happiness to you? the moment of joy to you? and why?

Oooooh, how I like this question! I experience a small degree of synesthesia, which is basically a way of perceiving one sense through another. So, for me, for example, the deep blue sky of the western horizon at twilight "smells" like cinnamon. Every time I see that color, it's as if someone snapped a cinnamon stick in half near me. Mmmmmmmm.

Now, I shall consider what color joy might be.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sky do?

I have been told, by parents and other relatives, that I was an inquisitive child, and I like to think that I still am! As a child, before I could speak in complete sentences, I would still ask lots and lots of questions, using the ever-helpful word "do?"

I would ask, for instance,

Sky do?

as in "what is the sky for? what does the sky do?"

Well, young Eva (who is four) and I are clearly kindred spirits because she wonders...

Why is the sky blue if the universe is dark and black?

Sky blue do?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I hope there IS some kind of after. Irma, from Finland, wonders too:

Is there life after death?

In the Laurel Hill Cemetery, where I am a volunteer, there's a gravestone that reads, in part, "Life is eternal; death is merely a change of condition." That is the way I like to think I think about this question.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Another deep one

from Marianne in the Ukraine:

When did it all begin and when does it all end?

I'm partial to the collapsing/expanding universe theory where the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end, although as this card shows, love in the middle makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The good of the many question

Oh, I've been asked variations on this question from Lithuania before:

Your country is at war. You have special powers. You can save your country and lose your family. You can save your family and everyone else dies. What do you do?

If it was just me, and I could be 100% sure everyone else (including my family) survives, I'd do it. The rest of it, I cannot get my brain to consider!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Home is where the heart is...

From Portugal, and the island of Madeira, comes this query:
Could you live on an island?

From Japan, another island, comes this:
Could you live on another planet?

Aren't we all living on a little blue island in the vastness of the universe?