Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Show Me The Money

If you could understand the What or the Why, which would you choose?

In this small town parking lot carnival we call life, we are faced with the choice to be ignorant, absurd, or happy everyday. Do we down two chili dogs and hop on the spinning octopus or head straight for the zipper? If that ridiculous relationship that is so clearly a Very Bad Idea is the carnival equivalent to riding the Gravitron after cotton-candy, why do we always ignore our better senses and jump right on?

Recently, I've had an opportunity to reflect on this conundrum and completed a small study in the Word which gave me new mental fodder on which to chew. My current position then, is this:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Matthew 6:21

That was the support for my conclusion, let me elucidate a little.

My thinking is that we focus to much on the What and not enough on the Why? We know what we want, we don't consider nearly enough why we might want it. Whether we are considering our own stumbling, or the ramblings of others, we too infrequently seek after the deeper motivation.

Back to the carnival and the bumper cars: we tell ourselves we enjoy the rush, the excitement, the feeling of freedom as we climb onto a rusty death-trap that has been assembled during the night by a chain-smoking, minimum wage worker who lives in the back of a truck. We do this again and again, only stopping to stuff ourselves with sugar, lard, and reconstituted meat-products. We pay for the privilege to risk our safety, to teeter on the brink of unleashing a technicolor yawn all over the shoes of strangers, and we do it with a smile and laugh.

Is it that we'd rather pursue happiness than just be happy? Or perhaps we don't really know why we do it, we just know we like it. We don't probe into the why, we just fixate on the what.

So what about when we are making rational choices? Weighing the pros and cons, making lists, and all that boring passionless stuff we usually deride each other for doing? In my experience we can be just as logical and reasoned about a what as we can be passionate. Just because we're thinking clearly doesn't mean we're asking the right questions or basing our decisions on sound foundations. Let's be honest, we can justify almost anything if we want it bad enough.

If you can ignore the sweeping generalization, we like the idea that ignorance is bliss. The world is frightening, and the secret plots and schemes of our inner minds even more so. I know as much as most about how disturbing it can be when I finally realize the real reason why I've done a thing.

So to bring this particular Ferris Wheel full circle, I'll just say that if you want to throw up less, don't eat quite so many elephant ears. And if you must indulge, stay off the rides. The fleeting happiness you find won't ease the smell of puke from your pants on the car ride home.

If you need a lift, first consider what's keeping you down. Knowing why you are doing something is the first step towards influencing what you are doing.