Such weight for such a small word.
The other question words – who, what, where, when and how, just in case you’re a bit more removed from early elementary school grammar lessons – have their places and are important in their own rights. They are our primary avenues for obtaining information about an event. They help us find out facts by providing tangible, concrete information. They are straightforward; who was there, when did it happen, where did they go. “Why” is less obvious, though. Why deals with intent. Why is about cause and motivation and reason. Who and what and where are fairly easy; the answers may not always be readily apparent, but there is usually a way to find those answers. Why is murkier, though. While the other interrogatives exist in black and white, “why” floats through the ether in various hues of grey.
“Why” just has… more.
All the big questions start off with “why.” Why do we do the things we do? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do we idolize athletes and actors? Why do we strive for specific body types? Why do we judge each other for making different choices?
Why are we here?
I hope I haven’t scared you off. This post has a very heavy feel to it so far and that wasn’t my intent when I started it. I had one particular “why” question in mind and this is the introduction I went with. Also, I may have majored in philosophy, but that doesn’t mean I have the answers to any of the other questions I mentioned. Most people spend their entire lives and many more pages than a simple blog post trying to find those answers; far be it from me to say that I can spell out those answers in 800 words or so. In fact, starting to ask those questions can lead down an extremely deep rabbit hole, so I’m going to just leave them there and move on.
The question I had in mind1 was, “Why do I write?”
It’s a fair question. My original intention was to paint a picture of the various ways I’ve changed since Eitan was born and to document some of the things he has done that have affected Trudy and me as parents.2 Part of it is so that I can go back and see where we all came from and the ways we’ve all changed. The other part, as I’ve mentioned before, is that I’m using this blog as a way for me to communicate with my son, especially once he’s older. He’ll be able to go back and read these entries and get an idea of what it’s been like for me going through the experiences of being a first time father. He’ll be able to get a picture of what he was like as a young child and some of the things he can look forward to when he starts his own family.
But, since we’re talking about progressions, I have to also say that I feel like the blog has become so much more than just documentation. It’s still a medium for communication with an older Eitan and the future me, but it’s also become a space for me to share other ideas about how I see the world around me. If the main purpose were just documentation, I would be better off just taking videos of everything instead of processing events and putting my particular take on them. Instead, I take the time to think more in depth about the things I’ve seen and done and the process of putting my thoughts down on “paper”3 serves as a release. I no longer have to hold onto the emotions that were affecting me in the moment and the writing helps me to get a better understanding of the experience.
When Trudy first suggested to me that I should start a blog, my first reaction was, “Who wants to hear what I have to say?” 59 posts, 160 followers on Facebook and over 5000 total blog views later, it would appear that more people are interested in my take than I originally thought. I hope that my writing has helped other people work through some of their issues while also reading about the things I’m going through. If nothing else, I hope that my blog posts have provided a bit of a diversion and made people smile here and there. Thanks to all of you for taking the ride with me. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.
(Also, last week’s poem notwithstanding, today is Christmas Eve, so I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone too.)
1. To be fair, this question was actually posed to me. I put some feelers out on Facebook looking for suggestions for writing topics and my father (another philosophy major, for the record) proposed this one.↩
2. Let’s be honest: everything about Eitan has affected us as parents. The blog is just a highlight reel, at best.↩
3. Quotation marks because I write on my phone or my tablet, usually while I’m on the subway.↩