“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”
I am so glad to be here. By that I mean I am glad to be writing. I am also glad to be alive and healthy. Yesterday I did not feel well. My deadline is getting closer and at the moment I’m excited and scared. None of the negative voices in my head are being quiet. They are still whispering, “Why are you doing this? It’s not going to do anything for you. It’s so arbitrary.”
Technically that’s true. This is an arbitrary goal. But in the long run, many goals are.
Why do any of us do any of the things we do?
What propels me to be interested in, say, U.S. Presidents and not quantum physics?
Why do I like baseball more than basketball?
And why do I ignore professional football for my entire life and then one day find it fascinating?
Why do I like orange more than maroon?
Why am the way I am and why do I do the things I do?
I think there are four answers: Godly design, genetic design, environment and choice.
I’ve been designed in a certain way by God and genetics. Now I understand the God part. King David wrote, “He knit me in my mother’s womb.” To me this means I was not an accident or a mistake. No matter what the people in my life thought of my birth, (and I don’t think they were too happy about it) God had a plan for me. Perhaps, given the billions of people who have ever lived, that thought is presumptuous. How is it possible that we are all here for a reason? I don’t know. And perhaps that’s not even the right question to ask. Perhaps all I need to know is that I am here for a reason.
We also have a particular genetic design, a unique one for each of us. This explains why I like pizza but not lima beans. It might explain why I like bright orange but not maroon. It comes from my family of birth, not only my birth mother and birth father, but also uncles, aunts and grandparents. For example, I knew a woman who did not look like her mother but was almost a physical replica of her aunt.
I also understand the environment part. We become like the people we most associate with. So, like everyone else I took on some of the traits, likes and dislikes of the family that raised me. I knew a family where everyone had the same laugh. I remember sitting with my adoptive mother once, watching TV. A performer started singing and I said, “I like her.” My mom said, “I don’t.” Those two words completely changed my view of the singer. To this day, I still don’t like that singer.
Environment is not restricted to family. As teenagers, our friends become more crucial and many teenagers adopt the clothing, tastes, habits and even speech patterns of their dominant peers. When I was in the California Conservation Corps, just about everyone swore. When I returned home after the training, people were shocked by my liberal use of the F-word and I wasn’t even aware of it. This is not restricted to young people. All of us at some level imitate the mannerisms of our peers whether we are at work or in a gang. (I won’t go to comic conventions unless I’m wearing a superhero t-shirt.) Our dominant group gives us a sense of safety, belonging and solidarity. We are unique…like everyone else.
Finally, there is choice. This is the hardest of all and it’s what makes life the most exciting. It is forming my own identity. I do not need to discard, nor can I to a certain degree, God, genetics or environment. Rather, I take all three and combine it into a unique fourth. It would engender the following questions:
· Why did God create me?
· Why am I here?
· What did my family(ies) teach me and how can I use what I’ve learned?
· What do I do with all my experiences, the places I’ve been, the people I know, the things I’ve read and learned, and my victories and defeats?
To ask these questions is to invite stress and confusion into your life. The word “question” begins with the word “quest.” Most quests don’t happen in a day. Some of them take years. There are no quick or easy answers. But I think it is also the only way to live an active and full life. Otherwise, I believe life just happens to us, not because of us.
Sometimes I see people who seem far more placid and calmer than I am. They seem to have fewer questions and their answers seem to be easier. They don’t seem to wrestle with God or life or constant complexity or analysis. I have sometimes wished to be that kind of person. At the same time, I know I am who I am. And I’m grateful for who I am. My life feels like it has endless dangers and battles, but it also has unlimited possibilities for joy and adventure. There are millions, if not billions, of ideas, thoughts and stories. Sometimes when I walk into a comic convention, I see the boxes and boxes of comic books and I realize how limitless creativity is. There is an unlimited number of worlds and ideas. And that’s just in the fictional realm. In the real world there is also an unlimited number of worlds and ideas, any of which I can use to make the world better. The limits come from the same place my solutions come from – my mind. Well, the solutions also come from my heart, my soul and my actions.
This is why I was created – to ask the questions and to find the answers.
To do this I have to Get Started and Keep Going…and keep asking.