Everyday I spend a few minutes on the NPR website. I don’t have the concentration at 6:15 am to listen and absorb Morning Edition. At 6:15 am, I am surrounded by the dark cocoon of my car as I drive through the pre-dawn world that is Upstate New York. At 6:15 am, I’m a little bitter that I am on my way to work and not still in bed. At 6:15 am, mindless pop music fills my head, not important facts. Thus, the NPR fix later in the day.
NPR’s website has several interesting blogs, my favorite is 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. Today’s post was by Adam Frank and focused on The Meaningful Life. It’s gotten me thinking. Frank’s essay asks us to focus on the simple questions and easily ignored mysteries of our world rather than the petty day-to-day things that so easily fill it. As a scientist, his job is to always ask why, but in truth everyone should ask that simple question.
“By entering into that dialogue with great effort and earnestness, the world ceases to be something merely ‘at hand’…[Simple things] become poignant mysteries that speak of greater powers than I will ever fully understand. They surround me, whispering that there is more, so much more, to the world than my small concerns.”
Sometimes connection comes from a simple question. You can’t get more simple than why. In fact, it’s probably the first question we learn to ask as children. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a five year old you know what I’m talking about: But why? But why?
As children, we want to know how everything works. We want to know how we connect to the world. But at some point, we stop asking why and by doing so we disconnect from the mysteries around us.
I want more people to ask why and to keep asking it until they feel connected to the answers they find. I have a feeling that a simple why is like an errant string – the more you pull the more you unravel. But just like that five year old version of ourselves, we’ll start to see once again how we connect to the world around us.