“Why? It is a question that arises out of dissatisfaction with one’s place in the world, yet it reaches back to the very first landscape, the Garden of Eden. Eve didn’t ask it until the serpent had made her doubt she belonged in that garden. And, seventeen books of the Bible later, “Why?” was Job’s fundamental question. But when his God finally got around to an answer, the Voice from the Whirlwind told Job, in blistering terms: Who are you to ask? Before my vast creation, you are nothing —stop bothering me. That is the real message of Job: not patience but modesty before the mystery of Creator and creation. … Forget the why; begin with the concrete miracle of rock and soil. Go from there.”
These words from Erik Reece’s essay, “In the Presence Of Rock And Sky,” published in the April 2010 edition of The Sun, articulate what I’ve never been able to. I’ve long observed the personal agonies and crises of friends and acquaintances as they struggle with various forms of why:
Why am I here?

Why do I feel the way I feel, look the way I look, think the way I think?
Why was I born in this time, to this family?
Why do people like/dislike me?
What is my purpose?

The assumption is that, as humans, the top of the food chain, sentient beings that we are, we must have been placed on this earth for a particular purpose. The assumption goes beyond the purpose of the species, to the individual purpose of each of the billions of us who populate the planet. How egotistical to assume that there is some higher (or lower) purpose aside from simply being a part of the vast, intertwined, and complex system of our galaxy.

The question why drives people to all sorts of worship: worship of God, worship of a charismatic leader in the name of God or of a cause, worship of work, worship of drugs and alcohol. The need to justify our individual existence drives people to success and to despair and sometimes, to humane causes.

I, of little ambition and no faith, have spent little time asking why. Whatever my situation, it is the situation. I may be able to change my circumstances or not. If I need to change them, then I must do so. If I can’t change them, then I must live with them as they are. I am happiest when I am, when I relax and feel the wonder of life and the miracle of my small presence in the midst of it.