All children hit an age when all they do is ask why.
Why do airplanes fly? Why does it rain? Why do I have to go to bed? Why is green, green?
We live in age when we ask why a lot. Many times it is just to go against established wisdom, or perhaps to justify doing things that in a previous age, just a generation ago, were simply not done. And the why question soon turns into the why not mentality. Why not do whatever I feel like doing.
Then you have science and technology. They say most great discoveries came about because of a mistake, but then if the experiment ha not started off with a “why”, the scientist would never have had the chance to make a mistake.
However there are important, life startling moments when it is a mistake to ask “why”.
Most of us have had experiences when things beyond our control took over and just happened. In the final analysis these occurrences just carried us along. Many accidents that happen to people, or illnesses and tragedies in general fall into this category. For that matter many ‘lucky” moments also happen despite ourselves.
About ten years ago I was involved in a head on crash with a bus. It was around two in the morning, a foggy road and a bus driver that decided to save himself a half mile turn, so he drove the wrong way. the end result was that we crashed while in the middle of a bend in the road. This occurred in Latin America, so it should come as no surprise that the driver and his assistant calmly picked up their stuff, walked out an caught another bus from the same line. I, on the other hand, was stuck in my pickup, with the motor practically in my lap, a broken and bleeding head, a shattered wrist, my right leg near my shoulder as the femur was broken in three places, including where it joins the hip, both knees broken and my left ankle with the bone sticking out.
A few hours later, make that 5 hours later I arrived at the hospital (other wonderfully unbelievable stuff happened during those hours with the police, the passengers who tried to rob me, another accident as a car smashed into the police car that was parked in the middle of the road without any lights – at around 3 a.m.), unconscious, in shock and barely alive. I survived and after quite a few months learned to walk again. Earnings wise things got a bit complicated as I couldn’t work or months afterward.
The point behind this story is that although it is by no means unique, it is the sort of thing that makes you ask “why”. Why me? Why? Why?
There are things that you cannot control and once they happen you cannot undo. To ask why is to get stuck in that story. Why did my friend die? Why did I crash? Why did this or that happen to me, or my family or my friend? Why did I become ill?
These why type of questions may be interesting, but all they do is stop you from continuing with your life. Typically resentment comes along and is fed by these “why” questions and the end result that it does nobody the slightest good.
So, if not “why”, what?
“What for” is the question we should ask. The first thing that happens is that immediately you stop apportioning blame. You also move on – even if you don’t know the answer. You look forward and this means that you start living your life, as you are in the driving seat yet again.
After this accident, when I had literally months to think this over I came to realize part of the what for. And it is quite simply a call to live my life to the best of my ability. Not to go from one day to another, but to embrace it firmly and with passion.
I didn’t fall into depression or anything of the sort during that recovery time or even the times I fell and wondered if I could walk again. I was focusing too much of my mental and physical strength in not giving up and that meant that I didn’t have time to think of other things. That came afterward and with it the realization that I had been given another opportunity.