Doubts.

Everyone has doubts.

I have them constantly.

How do you live with constant doubt?

I seek out answers.

Where do you find your answers?

Many places. Books. Music. Friendship. Conversation. Nature. Thinking. Food.

How can you trust those things?

What do you mean?

I mean, how do you know you can trust those things and not others for your answers?

It depends on the question(s) I’m asking myself.

How do you know you’re asking the right questions?

I don’t. But they are my questions. If the questions are wrong, then perhaps my bad questions will guide me to better ones.

Then how do you know where to look?

Look for what?

Your answers.

The answers aren’t mine.

What do you mean?

I mean that if I ask a question and the answer is not clear to me, I search it out. When I find it, the answer, I submit myself to it, even if I do not like what I’ve found. The truth isn’t something you get a hold of; rather it gets a hold of you.

Kiergegaard?

Yes. He influenced my thinking a lot.

Why?

He was a man of doubts and he wasn’t afraid to share and explore those doubts. He wrote in such away that his doubts made perfect sense, but his answers, or the answers that found him, made more sense, more sense than the questions.

What doubts do you have?

Depends on the day.

What about today?

Am I a good father.

Are you?

That’s a bad question: Am I a good father. The better one is “Am I fathering?” You are either fathering your children or you aren’t. It makes more sense to ask if you actually doing something before you ask how you are doing it.

So, are you fathering?

I am.

How did you do today?

Better than yesterday. Or worse. Depends on the area of focus.

Any other doubts?

Yes. That I’m unlovable. I’m no good to my family or my friends. That I only make things worse by being here. That I can’t do what I’m doing, or at least they will soon see that I have no idea what I’m doing despite the appearance I’ve worked really hard to maintain.

Is it hard?

Is what hard?

Wearing a mask.

I’m not wearing a mask.

But the appearance?

The appearance is more my covering my face than wearing a mask. A mask can just hang from your ears. Hiding behind my hands is more poetic and raw. I am constantly walling my face with my hands.

But if you’re using your hands to hide your face, your hands can’t do what they are supposed to do.

I know. That’s the struggle. To show my face in all emotional terrains. That’s where most of my doubt is produced, the emotional terrains.

Why is that?

Because emotions are your honest self emerging through the filter of your conscious. There are no bad emotions; just bad responses. Emotions are powerful things. Deadly, even. And yet, they make life far more experiential. We connect with other emotionally for more easily than we do ideologically.

Really?

No. Any emotion that isn’t ours is hard to understand. That’s why conversation and friendship is good: no man is an island.

Merton?

Merton.

You like a lot of outcasts, black sheep.

I find myself alone often, intellectually and theologically.

How do you cope?

Reading. Praying. Playing with my children. Making love to my wife. Eating good food.

Do you not deal with it?

That is dealing with it: sometimes you have to enjoy life to deal with doubt. By doing something productive in one area, you fix a problem elsewhere. Doubt is often rooted in emotion rather than reason.

Do you think you will ever not have doubts?

I don’t think so.

Why not?

Life is doubting something.

Does that bother you?

No, not really.

Why not?

Why does it not bother me?

Yes.

Because if doubt is my default worldview and I should doubt everything, then by default, I should also doubt my doubts, since doubts would be included in the “everything” category.

I don’t follow.

What does it mean to doubt?

To not be sure of something?

Sure. Lack of conviction, some say. But primarily it is a feeling of uncertainty: the very definition provides the human experience of doubt – a feeling. To live a life dictated by feelings is…

Is what?

…I was going to say dangerous. But that’s not the best word for it.

…Daring?

No.

…Risky?

No.

…I don’t know.

Impractical. That’s the word. If everyone did and said what they felt, unheeded, all the time, the world would be chaos and madness. No order, no justice ( no one would be wrong), no real sanity to compare the madness to.

I see your point. But you haven’t answered by question.

Oh, I apologize. What was the question?

How do you live with doubt?

How can I not?

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