Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cause and Effect

The older I get the less the question "why" really matters. As a child it was the only question and it is asked with annoying frequency in my house now. There is an innate desire in humans to unravel the mysteries of cause and effect. It is bred into us and ingrained into us by our elders. It is soaked into the fabric of our culture... just flip to any channel incessantly playing Law and Order re-runs... and there it is. Justifiable cause that our fearless sleuths unravel and our prosecutors prosecute. We NEED our answers wrapped up neatly in sixty minutes. The tragedies that we can't wrap our brains around those where there is no cause... just fateful timing. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our culture lacks the patience for the Greek myth of the Fates and so we seek black and white answers. Even our religion steeps us in this concept... predestination, karma, purgatory... all cause and effect in their own ways.

We want the world to be a place where goodness is rewarded and evil punished. We want to know that if we act well to our neighbors, they will, in turn, treat us well. But it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes the bad guys win, and sometimes the goodness results in nothing more than heartbreak. There are supposedly (and according to a writing teacher of mine once) only a handful of plot lines for fiction. These plot lines are repeated all around us every day. The good guy gets the girl and lives happily ever after. The bad guy kills the good guy right at the point of success. The girl turns out to be the good guy... or the bad guy... or just not that into guys in general... etc. But they are rhythms that we are all very used to. Comedy. Tragedy. Two sides of the same face.

And at the apex of the maturity level in terms of plot devices is what is called "no plot"... popular among the Coen Brothers and others of their ilk. The hero is not that heroic and manages barely any change through the story. The plot points are vague and fuzzy. The message is in the background and at the end of it we are left scratching our heads or demanding our money back.

But perhaps that is life. We are the heroes of our story. And in one storyline I can be the hero... and in another storyline I can be the goat... and yet another the bad guy. But my life is all of these things together. And all that really matters is the perspective of the person delivering the judgment of who belongs in which category.

So it isn't why that matters anymore for me... all that matters is perspective.


  1. All that matters is what you think of you and the reasons you do things.

    The rest can be left to wonder, "Why?".

  2. Thank you Christine...

    And BEG... and those incessant questions from my spawn.

  3. Perspective has labeled me a saint, a hussy, a bitch...and the "perfect wife." Explain that.

    To each his insanity...cheers.

    So glad to see you.

  4. @chantel... I like your labels better than mine. Glad to see you as well.