“She chatters on about Chanel too much,’ he admitted, ‘but she’s smart about books. She knows what she likes and more than that, she knows why. That’s very rare, particularly these days, when everyone’s more and more full of hot air.” The Paris Wife, page 284.
This passage in The Paris Wife had me reevaluating one of the simplest questions in life. Why is the sky blue. Why did this happen. Why do I feel this way. Why do I like this genre. Why do I avoid this person.
It’s asked so often, the question immediately puts us on edge. We become defensive, and learn to avoid situations where it might be asked. “Why?! Because I said so!” or “I don’t have to explain myself.” We forget how important it is in defining what we feel, and what we experience in life. If we learn to ask ourselves, then honestly answer, why, our positions become more concrete, it validates our experiences and feelings. It also reveals positions we need to let go, beliefs we no longer own, or activities we need to stop.
Why can often go unanswered.
We may never have an answer to the question of why a loved one committed suicide, why our child was murdered, or why our marriage ended. Sometimes, we just have to accept that we’ll never know the why. But we can decide what comes of it. We can decide, as painful and heart-wrenching as it may be, to learn our honest truth from the experience, and to make our lives better because of the pain. To be at peace with the answer, “I don’t know.”
Today, ask yourself why.
I found myself journaling these answers out this morning. Why did I overreact at a scheduling mishap? Because it made me feel like I didn’t matter. Why do I like historical romance novels? Because there is always a happy ending. Why am I living in Ireland? To become a student of this culture. Why am I student? Because I believe it’s more important to learn than to teach.
I invite you to do the same. Today, ask yourself why.
- Ayana Mathis on 3 Great Writing Lessons
- 6 Questions to Ask Yourself to Get the Most Out of Life on Zen Habits
- The Importance of Asking Yourself Why via Method
- The Importance of Why via Financial Times
Image: Ernest Hemingway with first wife, Hadley Richardson.