"Why didn't you put the coconut back in the cabinet?" Bob asked.
My old knee-jerk response to his "why" questions was to look for an answer he would buy. My current knee-jerk response is to resist his inquiry. So I said something like, "Does it matter?"
But after I sat down to eat, I asked myself the question he had asked me. Why didn't I put the coconut back in the cabinet? The answer was, I wanted to get out of his way in the kitchen. It wasn't a reason I needed to defend.
It's a small observation about an insignificant exchange with huge ramifications. I don't always know why I do things. But I don't have to be afraid to ask - or be asked - why. I don't know if Bob was completely neutral in his questioning or not. I do know that if I can ask myself why I do what I do and want what I want, I can learn more about who I am, grow myself into new levels of maturity and achievement, and communicate what I know more effectively.
Hans Reichenbach says, "If you can't say it, then you don't know it. Michael Polayani says, "I know more than I can say."
I say there are many ways of knowing. Learning to be able to speak what you know intuitively can bring unconscious wisdom to the conscious level. That helps others understand you. That's a useful skill.
But here's what I learned. This is HUGE. Just because I can't offer a good reason for my choices doesn't mean I don't have a good reason. I might not always KNOW my why, but I usually can TRUST my why. And that trust makes me want to get to know myself better.
So, a message to Bob: here's what I have to say about you asking me why I do what I do. Bring it on.