silence doesn’t mean
we have run out of things to say,
only that we are trying
not to say them.
So, let’s do this.
I’ll ask you a question,
then you ask me a question,
and we’ll just keep asking until
we can both get some answers.
-A father speaking to his son in The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
It’s a beautiful thought, and it leads to a beautiful scene in the book. A father and son are face to face, unsure of how to come back together. They have so many questions, so many pains, so many uncertainties and different perspectives on what’s happened. Feeling all that, the father suggests they start saying their questions. They don’t answer them–they just say them out loud, back and forth, one and then the other. In the scene there are never answers, but at first, the questions and the people seem far apart. Thirty eight questions later, they seem to have realized that they’re close.
It makes me wonder what questions are hiding in my life, pretending to be silence. It makes me wonder what I would say–what you would say–if we sat down, if we started wherever we could, and asked our questions.
I tried writing some of my questions here, but I think that’s mistaking Alexander’s idea. In the book, the experience is deeply personal. It belongs in that relationship. They ask the questions they need to ask, but somehow, those questions also need to be between those two people. Trying to do the same thing alone feels a bit like being in a raft and paddling on just one side, still expecting to go forward. Sometime soon, with someone, I’d like to try opening the silence. Perhaps, sometime soon, you’d like to try that, too. If you’d like to try with me, just me know. Either way, maybe “we can both get some answers,” or at least realize that silence doesn’t mean there’s nothing to say.