In a writing class I’m taking one woman repeatedly asked the same question over and over again one night. Her question was “Why?” What she wanted to know was, “Why would anyone want to read what I have to write?” When asked why she reads, she replied, “I don’t really. I don’t have time. I’m basically illiterate?” You might think in a class of writers that we would take offense to someone who doesn’t read but I sensed nothing of the sort among us. I can’t answer for everyone but I suspect that most of us write for the same reason we read, and for the same reason I’d like to read her stories, and it’s because I’m continually asking the same question she is, “Why?”
I began writing as soon as I learned to hold a pen and I’ve always been an incessant reader. Put me in a room with nothing to read and I’ll find a poster on the wall or directions on how to use the microwave and I’ll start reading. Reading and writing have always been a means for me to try and understand “Why?” The heading on my blog remains “One woman’s quest for greater understanding through freedom of self-expression”.
Since I was born I’ve been trying to figure out why people act the way they do? Why was I put on the planet and is any of it supposed to make any sense? Why do we respond the way we do in situations? Why is one person considered successful and another not? Why are parents, who are the people children rely on to keep them safe, often the ones who harm children the most? Why did Michael O’Brien love his baseball cap more than me? Why did my brother cut off all my dolly’s hair? Why did my sister wear seven pairs of socks and take one off each day so it would look like she had clean one’s on? Why are people attracted to each other? Why didn’t my Daddy love me? Or, if he did, why couldn’t he show it? Why does the one male director in my Agency seem to not have to follow any rules of norm? Why have I failed to find a lasting partner while my best friends are happily ensconced in a long-term love affair with each other that’s lasted 30 years? Why? Why? Why? I’m like a three year old who never got past the questioning phase. Everything about human behavior is interesting to me and I want to know more about it.
Currently one of the most popular TV programs on the air is NBC’s number 1 rated “This Is Us”. According to Forbes Online, the trailer for the second season of this show got a whopping 105 million views. What’s the show about? A family. A mother, a father, and three kids. Regular parents with a relatively regular family. Two twins, a boy and a girl, and an adopted brother born on the same day. The children are adults when the show takes place with weekly flashbacks into their lives growing up.
Why is it so popular? I think it’s because we all want to know the answer to “why”? Why is one twin a normal weight while the other is morbidly obese? Why did the parents choose not to tell the adopted son about his birth parents? Why were the parents attracted to each other? Was their style of parenting like ours? Like our parents? Is it better? Is it worse? Did it work?
We all read and watch and write in order to be entertained, certainly. But why is it entertaining? It entertains us because it’s a way of trying to understand the world around us and the life we find ourselves living. If next season finds that Chrissy Metz, who plays the twin sister Kate, is suddenly able to drop 100 pounds and find solace in something other than food I will be on the edge of my seat hoping she has finally solved the riddle of why so many of us have this love/hate struggle with food. Why do we struggle when so many others don’t? Why is this our particular cross to bear?
So I continue to ask the question, “Why?”, and in response to my fellow classmate I want to read your story because I’m fascinated by human behavior and still desperate to know: Why were you in the dorm room to begin with, why was your hand on that suitcase so ready to flee, why were you still in the room when the roommate and her mother finally appeared, what happened next and ….why?…why?….why???