The Why Game

Photo credit: Nevit Dilmen.
Photo credit: Nevit Dilmen.

A few years ago my oldest nephew went through that developmental stage in early childhood where young humans ask a million questions.

No matter what your answer was, he’d always want to know more.

Why do things work that way?

Why do we know that’s the correct answer?

Why can’t things work a different way instead?

He’s an incredibly smart kid, so he’d often reach the edge of your knowledge on a particular topic and still have many questions left to go. Googling it was a option, of course, but he preferred hearing the answers from adults if at all possible.

I was amused the first time this happened. It had been a long time since I’d spent much time with a child that age, so I’d forgotten how curious they are about everything in the entire world works and why it is the way it is.  Then I was intrigued.

He doesn’t know this, but I quietly borrowed the Why Game from him. When I’m bored or in a situation where I need to sit quietly but don’t need to pay close attention to what is going on, I pick a topic and start asking myself questions about it.

Why can humans thrive on so many different kinds of diets?

Why do vaccines work?

Why are there so many planets in the universe?

Why haven’t we cured tuberculosis yet?

Why did humans invent art?

I usually have a basic understanding of how the question should be answered. The trick to this game is to discover the parts of the answer that need to be explored in greater depth. Once I’m able to borrow a library book on the topic or do some serious Googling, I try to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.

It doesn’t happen quickly.

A lot of the answers I find are at least a little subjective.

But knowing that much more about our world is deeply satisfying.

If I reach my goal of living past my one hundredth birthday, I still will only know a small fraction of all of the things I wonder about.

What kinds of things do you do to amuse yourself when you’re left alone with your thoughts?

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0 Responses to The Why Game

  1. I tell myself stories (of course): assemble scenes in my head, map out dialogue, figure out how bits of plot and character should fit together, etc. Or I play Plants vs. Zombies on the iPod.

  2. i’m a “whyer” also…
    ..why capitalize first letter of a sentence???…is it not OBVIOUS???
    what happens as we continue to procreate???…’tis a finite planet, no?

    i also like to play w/words…& ideas
    i think i am
    therefore i am, i think

    excellent post, thx!
    @davegrigger