In graduate school, we were given a list of books to choose from for an assignment.
Naturally, I chose the shortest book.
Don’t get me wrong. I love long books — the longer the better — but not for assignments. Not when it feels like work. Not when there are deadlines.
The shortest book on the list was Man’s Search for Meaning.
And I have thought about that book ever since because of one quote from the author, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl:
Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.
Since I read that quote, I started recognizing that whenever I start asking, “Why?” and I don’t believe the answer I’m getting from others or myself, it’s over. I’m done. I lose it.
We all do.
We have to find an answer we can believe — for everything. Because the question of Why is spiritual; it’s about energy, emotion, ideology, and perspective.
Does the answer have to be empirically true? Yes and no and sometimes. It has to be true to us personally, and for some of us, it sometimes has to be a fact.
For example —
The reason I give myself to motivate my ass out of bed early in the morning is going to be different than yours. In fact, there are an infinite number of reasons to get out of bed early — things to do, people to see, food to eat, places to be, etc. But only one that applies to me on that particular morning.
One day, I might get out of bed early to go to work. The next day, I might get out of bed early to visit a friend.
Then, suddenly, there’s a day where there’s no reason to get out of bed early…and for the life of me I can’t convince myself to get out of bed at 6 a.m. “just because.”
I could tell myself: “You’re not that tired.” That might be physically true…but I don’t buy it.
I could try to say: “You’ll have more hours in the day to get stuff done!” Also true…but I know I’ll just take a nap later anyway.
I’m just not convinced — and you know what’s really unconvincing?
“You should get up now because other people get up early to do things.”
When I was younger, that would’ve been enough. Other peoples’ expectations were enough to motivate me. But it didn’t last because that answer isn’t intrinsic. As we get older and wiser, we realize that what other people are doing actually has nothing to do with us.
And everybody needs to answer their Whys for themselves.
It doesn’t have to be a brilliant answer. Sometimes my reason for getting up is just because I set the coffee pot to auto-brew the night before and the sound and smells of percolation are enough.
Other days, that isn’t enough.
Everybody is different. Every day is different. Every Why is different. My answers for yesterday may no longer apply to today’s questions.
This is how I view the spiritual journey.
Spirituality is about having an approach for scouting out the answers we can believe in for ourselves, for our diverse Whys. There is no single answer for every question.
We are all just Why scouts. That’s the basis of spiritual life as a human. It’s how we survive.
Spirituality doesn’t have to be as grand as becoming one with the cosmos (though that’s awesome); it can, and is, as simple as getting out of bed in the morning.
Peace Out, #WhyScout