Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Last night I was in my kitchen when my sister called out to me and asked me to bring her a sheet of tissue. I popped my head into the living room and asked her why she needed it. She looked at me rather quizzically and burst out into an amused and somewhat exasperated laughter.

“You never do anything without knowing why, do you?” she said.

And that made me think. She was right. I don’t. “Why?” is my favorite question. And “Just because.” is my least favorite answer. I have to know the reason for everything that I do or feel or think. It doesn’t make sense to me to act on any request, order or impulse without knowing the reason or consequences of it. I cannot blindly follow and be satisfied. And I struggle very hard to understand how anyone could.

I have in the past had some very painful discussions about why I need to know. And I have thought about it long and hard. At first the reason eluded me. But then I realized that I did know the answer, but that it was so ingrained in me that I made the assumption that everyone else thinks or feels about it the same way that I do. It seemed so natural to me that I had never processed it. But when I did, this is what I realized: Everything that I do, think, feel or say has a consequence, no matter how insignificant. And I hold myself responsible for that consequence. I would never let myself not be held answerable for the tiniest decision that I make. I feel that what would disgust me the most about myself would be the inability to assume accountability for what I do. Even if that only involved bringing a piece of tissue to a different room.

Unlike how this might sound, this feeling is not oppressing. Au contraire, it is the most liberating feeling of all. The sense of being in complete power over oneself. The contentment one feels when one knows everything about oneself. To be able to explain and rationalize everything that one experiences. What could be more satisfying or liberating than that? “Why?” is also the question that generates logic. And who would want to live a life that was not guided by something as safe and concrete as that?

So what do you think my response to my sister was? I smiled at her and asked, “Why do you think that that’s unusual?” And I think she smiled back.

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