Monday, January 10, 2011

The Value of Why

It has occurred to me recently that I don't ask why enough. I sometimes over answer the question when I'm asked, yet when I need to voluntarily explain why I fail to.
I baby sit a five-year-old who starting in his forth year asked why in response to almost everything he was told, at least what I told him. I did my best to give him real answers. But sometimes I found myself saying "Because I told you", or "It just is". Why? Because I was sure more than half the time he was asking why because he didn't know what else to say, or because he didn't like my first answer. So then I started reminding him to think first, not to just say why when he was frustrated with me or didn't like the answer, because I want to answer him when he really doesn't understand something, but if he says why all the time I'm going to stop answering him. He seemed to get that. Sometimes I feel sorry for he and his brother, I have such a backwards way of saying things on a good day, and they have to put up with me most days, good, bad, and otherwise.
I digress.
So many misunderstandings, frustrations, and blow ups in life could be avoided if we just stop and ask why. I don't mean we should expect other people to explain things to us, but that we make the effort to show them that we want to understand, or simply that we don't understand. What are we afraid of? Looking stupid? Speaking only for myself, I'd have to say it's a bit late for that. Being embarrassed or embarrassing someone else? That may happen, but isn't that better than loosing a friend?
I guess spending all that time in the truck on the road last week gave me time to ponder.
It takes guts to ask why. You have to be ready to hear the answer. So I'm not advocating random why's, or thoughtless explorations, but I do think in my life I'm going to ask why of myself as often as I can. I don't want to wander around this life. No I don't.

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