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Surviving Why

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     To whom do we owe this existence? A God or Gods? A goddess or goddesses? Millions of years of mutations? A star? Time? A moment, maybe? Perhaps, it’s all as well there is no particular answer to that specific question; to know, sometimes, destroys a question I find much more precious and relevent – to whom do we owe this life?

An act of knowing is different than acting in the unknown – there are no stipulations or demands in the unknown; we simply choose or adapt to the given. Maybe we seek the known so much that we lose part of the gift that is life; to be.

The hardest part of both the known and unknown is that we never quite know the rules or understand how to negotiate the never. So intensely is the desire for a why – something to answer us and complete the question with an answer, anything to just give basis to the moments that test us on every level and often so consistently that we barely heal from one before the next wave knocks us back down.

When studying animals, I’ve often wondered what they felt when one of their own passes; do they ask why? When I offer them rewards in the form of food, do they question with a why? I’ve had ducks that flew a block up to my door and made noise outside to gain my attention despite never bringing them there or feeding them at this location – I would say conclusively, they’ve rationalized between three distinct elements; I give food, they know where I live, and they want food. Do they question this?

To my human brain, I would ask why wouldn’t they yet the data seems to point that they, indeed, do not. The responses are different between different brains – geese would sit in my lap and allow affection similar, but not quite like that of a cat or dog. Smaller wild birds would show up, but appear to work extremely autonomically – they would follow me short distances, land near me yet never trust any of my movements or past a line of space. There are also personality types that sometimes make outliers that defy the general data; one wild bunny who was very paranoid verse one, after only two trials, would come within a foot of me. Bees that will simply use my hand and arm as leverage back to the flowers, not seeming to care or pause that it was on me for a moment. A random muskrat at a lake who absolutely let me pet it (record this, even), but when offered a clover – this muskrat bat at my hand and took off. I am still not sure how to interpret that! Clovers offended it? I don’t know.

What I do know is we’re a lot like those animals in nature, but not so much in-depth. The difference being the culture of our minds and society – we have longer life spans, safety in attaining food, security in survival and basic needs. We’ve evolved past basic instinct, as well as biological gains over time with clear advantages that form that “why” we often seek. Yet maybe we’ve come so far that we’ve forgotten key elements of the present – the distinct is.

Battling every challenge with a why is its own art form, one so truly human. I often ask myself why my life is one continuous battle – I would argue you that, statistically, I have defied the odds of experiencing more traumas within the first twenty-five years of my life than most will experience in an entire lifetime. If I were a book, it would be unbelievable. I also own some of those answers, and am not seeking sympathy; there are far greater tragedies than surviving.

So easily, though, a why would clear things up; give sustenance to something, a basis or realization. Yet it never comes, and it never will in the sense of a particular resolution. If life is a stream, we are simply part of it; what makes me or you so special that there needs a reason as to why we imprinted a particular part of the earth? Multiple points of it, even, shaping it in small moments that never appear to define it in any substantial way yet still defining it, nonetheless.

Animals seek less of a why because it simply is, and to be human is an amazing model of how far we’ve come, but one that is part of that is despite how different we display.

A little known fact about those cute ducks and some birds; we would call the males rapists. There was a pure white duck my niece named Angel and he certainly appeared to be everything sweet and visually appealing, but he lacked suitors. Genetically, he wasn’t favored. He would chase females off their nests, when they ate in the water, when with other ducks – the female ducks would run into traffic and down alleys. Angel was a jerk and I had to chase him a few times away from one particular female duck that decided to lay eggs under my tree. The mother duck would run, yelling very loudly as Angel chased her and attempted to mount her – it’s how you always knew Angel was abound.

Yet the mother duck would return promptly to her eggs as if nothing happened. And Angel was a nice duck, with a hurt leg, genetically un-favored and one I loved despite having to keep him away from the mother duck at times. They would actually still hang in groups, despite all this, as Angel was not constantly on the prowl.

My point in sharing this is that, no matter how badly we want that why, some things just are. And we have to accept that. We can’t mourn for a why forever when there is no why; some people are just who they are, some accidents happen because they happen, events change our lives in ways we have to redefine everything from yet there will still not be an absolute given why factor.

And I hate that. I hate that we cannot discern some kind of proof to our existence; some higher answer to bestow upon us that it wasn’t our fault, or it has purpose beyond ourselves in a very straight and obvious way. But, stop for a moment and separate now. This is where it is. That word purpose.

Purpose isn’t so much the past; it is the present and the future.

Our why sometimes overshadows our imprint; when we hit and carve the earth, there is a rippling effect and it alters and changes the physics of everything around us – often, we do not see this. It justifies nothing, yet it produces something deeper; impact.

What if, for a moment, we accepted there are no rules to life; outside our bubble of society and what we’ve created as a humanity, there are simply no givens. And even within our society and this bubble we call humanity, there are those who act with no rules and not by any given morality. We are left, than, with what we have to work with.

Do we need an answer of why?

Perhaps, it is better to ask how instead of why. In survival, the world is what it is and we adapt and overcome – we give purpose action and create elements to chart our path to safer channels. You’re not miserable because life hates you – you’re miserable because you can’t justify your why with an answer. Surely, how will tell you. Unfortunately, knowing is sometimes the hardest aspect – harder than simply blaming or questioning forces beyond ourselves. Especially when there are factors we had no control of, but how still answers – if not in our actions, in others. And we are left with what to do with knowing.

We are left with impact and purpose. Unfortunately, the mother duck couldn’t form an addendum to the rules of their society and run a campaign on why this behavior was obstructive, rallying other ducks on the pros and cons of defeating this behavior. Yet we as humans have and continue to do this, mostly after we stop asking why and answer how. We give purpose, we impact and change because the directions became much more obvious.

If there was some outside answer as to why, I think it would destroy what innately gives us the power to our lives – to our entire being. Certainly, it would be clearer but there would never be a how. Realistically, I think if we had an answer to our why, it would linger at a vague “because it did.” What do we really gain or do with that?

Maybe it seems silly to weigh on words, but these are more than words – they are choices we commit to. Life has taught me a lot by studying it, mostly that it doesn’t give me room to be special – one wrong move and I will suffer the consequences. It really is that simple sometimes.

The more pressing question of to whom do you owe your life – the answer is always you. No matter what or who created you, only you in this very moment answer for yourself and create the content of your life. And if in this moment, all the why’s clutter around with no movement than it is time you ask yourself how.

Take a moment, any moment, and ask yourself how. When you want to say why, say how.

Inside that answer is where you’ll find the directions you seek; they were always there, waiting. Maybe the life that surrounds us never evolved past us in the same sense, but their directions are clear and precise – asking why is for pondering, and how is for answers. What are you waiting for?

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