I believe in asking “Why?”. Why a ball rolls but a block does not? Why do we have to go to school? Why does life exist? Why do I exist? Why do I have to eat broccoli? Why can’t I eat only cheesecake? Why is there war? Why should I do the “right thing” if no one is going to know? Why is the sky blue?
Some of my questions are answered easily. Sometimes I think I have an answer, only to find that I revisit the same question frequently in my life as my previous answer does not satisfy my new understanding of the world around me. Sometimes I can’t find a satisfactory answer and the question gnaws at my brain as I go through the motions of life. Frequently the answers need to be re-validated. Sometimes daily, sometimes not for years, sometimes every few minutes!
But always, these questions add meaning and value to my life. My actions are based on a belief of why I am doing them and this adds determination, passion and fulfillment. I have often encountered people who don’t know why they are working in the job or profession they have picked. And their work is usually mediocre and bland. I have encountered people who don’t know why they are married, why they have children, why they hang out with the people they hang out with, why they hate the people they hate. These people rarely jump out of bed in the morning, anxious to meet the day. I can’t imagine filling a day with activities that have no relevance and meaning to my life. Understanding why gives my actions relevance and meaning.
How each of us answers the why question depends on something within each of us that I don’t yet understand. Why is the sky blue? A poet may find satisfaction in the answer that a blue sky is tranquil and allows for a peaceful coexistence of the myriad of creatures on earth. A red or orange sky would have provoked the anger within and we would all be dead. I find more comfort in an answer that explains the frequencies of the different colors of light and the preferential absorption and scatter of the shorter wavelengths in the earth’s atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen. The poet might scoff at my answer finding it irrelevant to his understanding of why the world is as it is. Neither answer is wrong really. It is just that the answers to my “why” questions usually lead to “what” questions and “how” questions. Someone with a different temperament than mine might ask “who” questions and “where” questions in response to the same “why” question. This is the difference between the poet and me. Why is the sky blue? I ask: What exactly is color? How does color happen? A poet might ask: Where is this color and whom does the color affect in this role? Perhaps it is also the difference between a historian and a scientist. Regardless of your inclination and how the questions are answered, the importance is in asking the “why” questions and relentlessly pursuing the answers. This, I find, gives meaning in my life.
Why did I write this essay? It is because I care about each of your lives having meaning, now and in the future. I suppose sometimes my “why” questions are answered through “who” and “where” reasoning rather than “what” and “how”. Is it possible there is a “poet” in me?
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