How Does Life Live?

by Kelly O’Brien (For full experience:

How does life live?
Can girls be robots?
Why is fire called fire?
What is winter?
Why do we have to sleep?
How many dogs are in this world?
Where do ants come from?
Why are some things special?
Why do (don’t?) worms have faces?
Why is (the) sun in my eyes?
Why does everybody not like pink, just black?
What do princesses do?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Do girls have vaginas?
Why do boys cut their hair?
How do you make water?
Why do you like beautiful things so much?
Why do you pick flowers, and then they die?
Are you old, Mom?
Why are the leaves falling down?
Will I have another birthday?
Why doesn’t everybody know me?
What are you talking about?
What’s a conversation?
Why do people laugh at me?
Why is she mean?
Why are you on your phone?!
What happens when I don’t like you, Mom?
What is mean and nice?
What is kind?
Do you love me?
Why are kids small?
Where did you find me when I was a baby?
Why does the heart beat?
Why do my feet sparkle?
What’s bacteria? Does it hurt you?
How does food turn into poo?
How do you be a mermaid, Mom?
Why can’t we see angels?
Can you turn me into a fairy?
Do blue butterflies…eat parts of the sky?
Do worms cry?
Do bugs die?
Why do the birds fly away?
Why are we humans?
Why do we eat animals?
Why do trees just stand there?
Why is it night time when trees when people are awake?
Why does the earth move?
What is atmosphere?
Do (did) God make the ocean?
Where does the sun go?
Why is the world so messy?
Why do we all have cars?
What is a molecule?
What does extinct mean?
What is power?
What is history?
Why are we gonna die?
How do people get killed?
What is fragile?
When did the world even start?
Mom, why are we starting again?
What is history?
How does life live?


PARTS of the SKY

Do Blue Butterflies eat parts of the sky?
One of many endless questions from a young 
Child, seeing the butterflies patterned

Blue on blue.

For me the question conjures up Escher,

The artist/printmaker.
As a child, he was curious how a shape 
is both a space and a whole, each fitting 
within the other. 

Escher repeated a single shape
without overlapping creating
a tessellated puzzle.

Like the Child’s view,

His puzzle defined an endless horizon 

of blue butterflies eating parts of the sky.

What is Fragile?

A breath in, a pause, breath out, pause.
Like a sonata of sensemaking of the
Surrounding small moments, each,
Last for an eternity.

Promises pushing against
one another, like seedhead.
Which will be the first to fall to the earth, slip into a
small crevice, there die a seed, birth a flower,
A flower with its seedhead, pushing against
One another. Which will be the first to fall
to the earth?

—Martha Koock Ward



What is the secret river?
Do rocks direct us?
Is there ever a stopping?
Do we all travel?
If I follow, is there a place I am going?
The last way, steps lost into canyon, can it be found?
When the mist swirls on the side of the cliff, is that it?
Is there any way to go on?

Sarah Webb


What is kind? What is fragile?

Kind, separate from nice, recognizes our common fragility.

Kind wraps us in a soft understanding, a willingness to listen.

A desire to quiet our own minds to hear what's on someone else's

A sharing of a load, a burden, time

A slowing down until you can feel what it's like to be that other person

Heart beating, breath breathing

What it's like to be yourself




I can't figure out why it has taken me 70 years to figure out how insufficient our answers and explanations really are. Kids ask why and they are curious. And then they go to school and are given answers. I read the other day that the only facts are in our minds. But they don't tell us that in school, did they? We are fed answers sufficient to quell our curiosity.

An exception to this was when I had a color theory class where the teacher wouldn't tell us stuff. He'd grunt or shrug his shoulders when we'd ask him a question. He’d ask us to look harder and to find out on our own. He opened us up to the exploration of color, reminding me what Matisse once said, “I’ve spent all my life playing with color.”

What is a kid asking for when they ask why? Do they want to know the answer, or are they just saying, “Look at this…isn’t it awesome?”?

There a joke in my family that I ask a lot of questions, and worse, I expect answers. And not grey answers like my color theory teacher would say or not say, but black and white answers. When my aunt Reggie was a beginning psychotherapist, she'd give me answers…just the kind I thought I wanted. So when I’d ask something of my sister, a psychoanalyst, she would always answer, “Ask Reggie.” Unfortunately, when Reggie became old and wise, her answers became less binary and much more confusing…and rich.

So what should we do with kids questions? What can we do to encourage their curiosity even more?

William Blake wrote "never seek to tell thy love... Love that never told can be. For the gentle wind does move. Silently Invisibly" That seems about another form of answers. Think of when someone asked you if you love them. Isn't it always when the relationship is dissolving? So they need to clarify. They need to make an experience into a fact. And from there it goes downhill. Silently. Invisibly.

My grandson asked me the other day, holding up a piece of parsley at his school’s Seder lunch, “Who made this?” Unfortunately, I gave him an answer. I could kick myself. There are so many questions I could have asked him, like who does he think made it, or why was he asking the question, or what else in the world is he curious about who made it, or how might he find out who made it. I was not curious about his curiosity and for that I failed him. Maybe next time I can do better.

Kim Mosley

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