A few weeks ago, during a conversation about my random thoughts and anxieties, a friend of mine said, in good humour, “Your problem is that you always want to know why things happen, instead of just accepting that they’ve happened.”
The conversation went on, and many other things were discussed, but that observation has stayed with me. It’s gone round and around in my head, building itself a nice little condo in the back of my mind and showing up uninvited at inappropriate times. Why has it stayed with me? Because, no matter how lovingly it was presented, the word “problem” made me feel that this is a character flaw; that my desire to understand the hows, whys, and wherefores of people and events makes me somehow weaker than someone who simply accepts that things happen without question.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve travelled down many a dark road — ones all too familiar to those people who resonated with Mike Swift’s brilliant article a few days ago. I’m writing about this topic today not because I’ve found the light at the end of the tunnel, but because thinking about the journey I’ve been on has thrown up more questions than answers. And, as we all know, it’s questions that inspire us to write. If we had all the answers, we wouldn’t feel the need to sit and write 80,000 words about them.
Things happen because…
First of all, let me start by saying that my friend is absolutely correct. I do always want to understand the why of things. And not in a shallow superficial way, but in a deep, “what happened to this person when they were younger to prompt them to behave and believe in such a manner today?” kind of way. To be honest, I used to think this desire to understand the deep motivations of other people was a natural part of being human; something everyone did instinctively. But, as it turns out, this is not the case.