Posted by: elightkeeper | January 26, 2013

Life’s Q & A

This morning, I came across something I’d scratched on a piece of paper and stuck in my notebook back in December. (Yes, I still have a notebook. Yes, I like it very much. No, I do not use Evernote.) The little piece of paper, about the size of a business card, leapt out of the book and onto my desk as if it had legs. It had three words on it: “Why? Why? Why?”

3 whys

I paused to contemplate the significance of this. Truth is, I could not remember “why, why, why” I wrote those particular words or what I was even thinking of at the time. (Insert aging joke here if you must. What were we just talking about? Oh yeah.)

So the first thing that came to mind as I stared at the paper was Tom Jones singing “Delilah”. If you are of a certain age, you will get that connection immediately. The tune may very well become stuck in your head for the rest of the day and, if so, I apologize in advance for that. If you are too young to remember, you can find him here on You Tube.  It is a superb period piece on music, fashion, pop culture and weird stalking behaviour from the late 1960s.

But Tom Jones didn’t shed light on my three why questions. I decided to try a brainstorming activity.

Why? Why? Why? Three whys. Three whys in December. Three wise men. It was just before Christmas when I wrote those words. This line of thinking was nothing more than a dead-end stretch of my creative mind. Much as I love a good play on words, this notion smacked of seasonal homonym disorder. It didn’t ring any bells either.

I thought of the “5 WHYS” technique for problem-solving, made famous by the Toyota Production System in the 1970s. I have driven three Toyotas in my life time.  This reasoning didn’t get me anywhere. I’d clearly driven into a coincidental cul de sac. Besides, I was clearly two whys short of a 5 why problem-solving set.

“Why? Why? Why?” I thought of bad dialogue in old movies. I thought of the Harlequin romance novels that my friend Arlene use to consume on our bus rides home from high school. Books with happy endings. Which reminded me of the “why?” questions we ask the universe in response to the unfairness of the human condition.

Then I remembered. In December, I learned that three friends – colleagues, healthy people, all recently retired teachers – had been diagnosed with cancer.

I stuck the little piece of paper back into my book again this morning as a reminder.  “Why?” it asks, for each one of them. Some questions simply don’t have answers. But stories can still have happy endings.

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