The Last Question
If you are reading this, then you woke up this morning; and if you woke up this morning, then you had a day’s worth of hours to spend. Spend them you will and indeed spend them you must, whether you believe in a deity or not, whatever your race, politics, gender or religion. But as any parent knows, humans are born to ask, “Why?”, and so “Why is snow white?” evolves over the years into, “Why am I doing all this stuff?” This can turn into a rabbit hole of a question, and plenty of mental wards are filled with those still asking. But the question will hang there whether we answer it or not, and however we choose to answer it becomes, often unintentionally, the dominant perspective from which our life is led. The answer, in this way, becomes our reality.
Let us say, for instance, that some of how you spend your hours is writing. Typically, writers are told – accurately – that one writes not because one wants to but because one must. All right, but why? Where is this overseer driving us back to our desk? Well, The Writer says, I like to write, and a man must eat, and so this how I choose to feed myself, doing the thing I like.
True enough, but even within that answer resides the joyless fear of death, that all our energy and hours are spent in a ceaseless race against Time, the Reaper’s slow-moving but unerring scythe. No, we are not racing against Time, but employing it to bring into the world what did not exist before our time was employed.
Writing is one such employment, a translation of what we love – which is only a feeling, and so only within us – into words. We wish this translation to be as accurate as possible, to ensure that it is specifically what it is. To do so we must summon it from the soup of possibility and there, there in our imagination behold it in stillness. In that moment of thoughtless beholding we are brought into our most intimate proximity with what we love. This is why we write, and this is where all “Whys?” end, for you have reached yourself, and there is nowhere else to go.
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