Why You Should Ask Why

Always seek yourself. I’ve internalized that mantra since high school. When life felt full of questions, I wrote them down. Sometimes I found answers, sometimes I found more questions. More importantly, over time, I found myself.

Millennials are constantly derided for our “me” focus, but looking inward makes us grow. We’re a generation that asks, “Why?”

Older generations hate that question – we see it lampooned frequently in family sitcoms. A beleaguered adult wit-wrestles with a child who repeatedly asks, “Why?”

And what is the reaction?

The adult becomes irritated, offering explanation after explanation. The child persists in their deep desire to learn. Finally, the adult shuts down this pursuit with a lie or a declaration of authority, “Because I said so!”

And we laugh. And what did the child learn?

I know I’m making dark what is intended to be light, but the situation illuminates how we teach our children not to learn, not to question, not to grow.

But the questions didn’t disappear for me. I swallowed them. And in a high school creative writing class, I felt safe to ask them once again.

We don’t like asking, “Why?” because to ask presumes change. If you question why something is, why it has always been, you are implying the desire to make it something else. Or perhaps that’s too inspired an answer.

Perhaps we don’t ask, “Why?” because we don’t want to think at all. We don’t want to dream of something better, because what “is” is good enough.

As adults, it’s easy to lose the desire to dream. My aunt recently recalled a story where she asked me what I’d buy with all the money in the world, and I said, “Another planet.”

Recently, I had trouble dreaming of what my life could be in five years.

We lose the desire to dream because we have dreams, and when they fail to materialize, it becomes our most impossible act to dream again. Eventually, we become the adult telling our inner child to stop dreaming, “Because I said so!”

Is dreaming an act of rebellion? For me, today, it is. For me, this post is my re-commitment to a life of dreams. It is a re-commitment to ask, “Why?”

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