“Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us”
‘Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear’
‘Why Nana Katie? What’s that man doing? What’s that one? Why?’
I confess I do not have all the answers to the constant questioning by my three year old grandson, Jack. Sometimes I have to admit that I don’t know and that leads me question why I don’t know. Is it because of lack of interest on my part?- his obsession with the mechanical world of men is not one I share- but like the child in the Emperor’s New Clothes such questioning can reveal the absurdity of many aspects of life which have been created out of encrusted thought patterns and perceptions of how the world should work. There is much in modern life which is habitual, unconscious and unchallenged.
‘What’s it like to own another human being?’
I recall this question from my Masters studies many years ago. The questioner was a Quaker (whose name now escapes me) who travelled the American South asking it of slave owners. He was willing to listen to no doubt many justifications of the evil practice, before continuing to repeat the question in a new form. Such gentle yet powerful questioning was said to be as powerful a force for social change as the fiery Abolitionists activities.
“Why?” is often considered a radical word. It is a challenge to contentment and dysfunction. It is also a highly creative tool which helps us understand the motivations and purposes of our characters in fiction. It is also important to ask it when we are stagnant in any area of life or art and will inevitably It lead to innovation, risk-taking, healing and sometimes to eye opening insights which produce a tipping point for major change. It doesn’t have to be a serious thing to ask, just a playful why ? can produce a whole new way of perceiving our world and our art.