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Isoda Koryusai:
Girl Playing a Prank on a Young Man who is Napping (c. 1769)

"It must have just happened just because."

I do not consider myself incurious, yet I frequently squelch one line of inquiry. I might, with genuine curiosity, ask the usual who?, what?, and when? before squelching on the why?. I do this because I long ago decided that why? serves severely limited utility and mostly fails to rise up to within the range of a necessary question and worse, why? most often proves to be an absolute barrier to resolution. In those rare instances where my personal motivation might come into question and where I'm the one expected to perform the answering, why? seems an entirely unremarkable question, but these conditions rarely reign. More often, the situation involves another's presumed motivation coming into question, or worse, a chain of presumed motivations shared between a string of actors, none of whom seem available for cross-examination. Then, I can only deepen the mystery by asking why? questions. Insisting upon answers from an apparently indifferent universe seems as though it could only ever make matters worse. I try to remember to cease and desist then and grant myself an Askemption.

Success often stands beyond closure.
As long as open questions remain unanswered, Success remains elusive. Asking questions that by their nature seem unlikely to yield answers can only stall the process of closure and, therefore, Success-making, too. One essentially insists upon failure when engaging in this sort of questioning. One might eventually come to appear petulant, seeking answers from stone, by persisting in the questioning, especially if the questions come accompanying a wounded insistence and an 'if only' resistance as if The Gods or something were keeping you from collecting your rightful heritage. Then, a sense of divine injustice comes into play. Anyone can ride the resulting unfairness a very, very long way instead of ever gaining closure and ultimately ensuring the failure of their mission. There very likely could never be a reasonable answer to that sort of why? question.

I understand that scientific advancement would have never gone this far if it had held this dismissive attitude toward the why? question. I'll explicitly omit scientific inquiry from this specific explanation because science does not usually seek to understand motivations but, more often, causal chains. Our sun need not feel the least bit motivated to evaporate water, nor does water need a reason to yield to the sun's insistence. They both engage in motivation-less dance, responding according to their natures rather than to motives. Neither sun nor water ever attempts to accomplish anything. Not so the object of our inquiry here, the absent actor who's not present now to explain themselves. They're gone, leaving behind only the effects of their choices, seemingly goading us into emphatically asking our why? just as if a definitive answer might be possible and as if that answer might bring final closure. Is any of that even possible?

Probably not, and that's my point. Surveying this territory, I think it unlikely that anyone could ever provide a straight and entirely acceptable answer to this most squirrelly question. The person who performed the action isn't present, so the questioner must inevitably engage in inept mind-reading in order to conjure up anything like an answer. But could that answer ever qualify as acceptable, above reproach, beyond question? Not without the principal present to confirm the necessarily embedded assumptions squirming around within it. If a straight and definitive answer must be forthcoming, then closure won't ever be coming, so Success will be Successfully shunted due to the insistence upon a response to a Fundamentally Undecidable Question. The questioner will have successfully Fundamentally Undecidedly Questioned, FUQed, themself. Congratulations!

Instead, one might Successfully employ some variant of The Most Generous Possible Interpretation Rule. Rather than asking FUQed up why? questions, the inquisitor might perform a small act of acceptance. They might accept that the way it was, was the way it was, without question, and grant the way it was the right to serve as the answer to any clarifying question as if there could have been no alternative explanation, just as if the fates had stepped in to finally resolve the question. For those like my son-in-law, who understandably continues grieving his loss of his wife, my darling daughter, by her own hand, I can offer no definitive answer, only an instructive one. I have no means for second-guessing her historically good judgment in this instance, so I'm forced to assume that she was well-informed and that she'd come to her regrettable decision after rejecting every alternative course of action. Because I lack access to any better explanation, I'm forced to grant her the goodness of her own good judgment, mine proving eternally lacking in comparison.

Why? might, in the event of a do-over, provide real value by informing me of different choices I might personally make. But this one ain't now, nor will it ever become a do-over deal. We're stuck with the result we received, with no ifs, ands, buts, or pleases very likely to appease us. We're, of course, perfectly free to ask after why?, but also just as free to let the FUQing question lie. If there could not be an answer, the only response might be silence or some otherwise acceptable story we might invent to prevent our own insistent irresolution from haunting us forever. "Because" might just work in this instance because it just happened for no externally discernible reason, one only available to Heidi and no one else. It must have just happened just because.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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