Thursday, November 20, 2008


This is normal?? This, this disaster, these consequences, this life is normal?? I don’t know about you but I have asked myself these questions any number of times. I guess what I am really asking is, ”Is this fair?”, “Did I really deserve this?”, or, “Why does everyone else seem to have such a normal life?”

It’s a child’s question, really. “Why is the sky blue, Mummy?”—“I don’t know, dear, it just is.”, or, “Why is grass green, Mummy?”—“It just is, dear.”, or, “Why do I have to go to school, Mummy?”—“Everyone has to go, dear.”

Things just ARE. Yes, there are logical, understandable (by human standards) answers for some questions and some answers you just have to take on faith. No one understands everything. Hell, we understand so very little in the grand scheme of things. We have barely scratched the surface of what it means to be human. We don’t understand ourselves, we don’t understand others, we don’t understand the world and we don’t understand the universe. Why, why, WHY??

I have a hard time with “why” because I want to know why about everything. I have a hard time just accepting an answer – I want to know what went into the answer. This urge to know why is wonderful at times and a hellacious trial at other times. And sometimes, I just want to shout out (maybe on my balcony—I can be a deranged Juliet), “Okay, I’ve had enough. I know that adversity builds character, but I have enough character now to last me a number of lifetimes. Can I please just get on with it?”

But howling won’t help me. Not much, if at all. Actually, when I become angry about something/someone and I vent, I just feel worse afterwards. More angry, more guilty, more out of control than before. It’s a cycle that feeds on itself, spiraling into a fire-breathing dragon. I have tried meditating through it, breathing through it, talking myself down out of my anger. But I’m still mad.

I have to experience things for myself. It’s a part of my “why” problem and not accepting answers without question. I’m just lucky that when someone (probably one of my parents) told me not to play in the street, I stayed off the road. So at least I don’t have to learn “everything” first hand. Although it does come in handy for a writer.

Trying to put things into perspective is probably the most helpful thing I can do and trying to treat myself like my best friend would. I know I can’t control everything—least of all, anyone else. I can control the things I do but I can’t control how my body and mind react, not instantly anyway. My pulse speeds up, I start jiggling my foot up and down jack-rabbit fast if I’m sitting, the flight/fight instinct kicks in and off to the races I go. But I don’t want to go to the races. I hate the races. I want to go back to being calm and philosophical. Relaxed. Breathing slowly. Simple stuff.

Beneath all the fancy clothes, makeup, haircuts we have, beyond the technology we possess and our so-called superior lifestyles, we are still cave people, hunter-gatherers. Driven to huddle beside our primordial fires to keep the wild beasts at bay. Defending our little clans with clubs against marauding invaders who would steal our resources, our peace of mind, our security. I guess some of us (who, me?) are just more primitive than others. Reacting to negative or positive stimulus as though they are imminent dangers. That’s how humanity has survived for, what it is, 100,000 years or so?

I am learning to slow down my reaction times. Instead of a knee-jerk, shoot-from-the-mouth reaction, I'm backing away mentally to think about what is really happening. Is this reaction warranted by the circumstances? Am I blowing things out of proportion? What are the facts versus what am I feeling? Do the facts support/qualify the feeling? Giving myself the space to pick and choose my reactions while still assertively reinforcing my personal boundaries.

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” This is a quote from some ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, I think. He isn’t advocating suicide or killing people who don’t contemplate life. He is saying that the “cost” of living life is too great not to examine it in detail. Sort of like buying a house without having done a house inspection before plunking your hard-earned cash down. Your life shouldn’t be a lemon you bought for a bargain but now want to return. The cost of life, the responsibility of life, is too high if you don’t know who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Making life, through examining it, worth the costs of living it. And that means not driving myself crazy with “why”.

Know thyself, goes the saying by the Oracle of Delphi from two thousand or more years ago - I don't know the actual date. I think it’s an important saying. Knowing yourself will help you live the life you want to have. Shaping and crafting your life into something that is pleasing to you.

It’s the only life you have.

There. Now I feel better. I’m not even going to ask “why”. It’s a gift and I’m accepting it.


J. N. Sander said...

It's great to read that someone else wants to know "Why?" all the time.
Good writing too.

Joy Leftow said...

sometimes all we have is our questions and thoughts

Sandy said...

No doubt at all, Brooke, that you're a writer. I haven't known a writer who didn't ask questions. That's what we do. Great post, sweetie.