What versus Why

I once had a psychologist ask me “What is your deal with poetry?” If I didn’t know that he also had a thing for poetry I might have taken offense. I have thought of this periodically over the years since he asked and feel I could dissect my personal history and come up with a theory. Somewhat like when he asked about my favorite color, wondering out loud if it might be blue? Most likely because I wear alot of blue things. Instead of answering his question I gave him some color theory hypothesis about how emotionally sensitive people tend to run hot and subconsciously are attracted to cool colors and that since my essence is red maybe my favorite color was blue. Oh brother! I was making him work for his money that day! I think I took him on the little cognitive field trip because I wanted to know why he was asking such a basic question? Why did it matter what my favorite color was? However, I ask myself these questions all of the time like: Why do I love Jane Kenyon’s poetry so much? Why do I ache when I read Joan Didion flood the page with memory? Why am I trying to get closer to books that call to me from shelves? I am realizing now another thing this therapist was trying to teach me: that “why” questions are not helpful, “what” questions are and they are the source of good stories. Now that I think about it he never alowed us to waste time on why questions. What would have been really interesting and possibly healing would be to have sat with my answer about color. Acknowledging how wonderful the color blue is and how we coalesce with it and what a miracle and privelge it is be able to talk to someone about it.

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