Why would you want to do that?


– From Joanie:
I’m often asked the question “Why would you want to do that?” This question sometimes comes from family and friends, but more often from acquaintances. I’m usually asked this in response to any of the following: 

  • A description of what I do for a living
  • Telling someone that I’m taking superfluous lessons in something because I enjoy them or because I find running on a treadmill to be a form of modern torture, while Parkour lessons accomplish a higher level of fitness and makes me feel like I might have a chance in the zombie apocalypse
  • Announcing that I will be going on some kind of trip, whether it’s a weekend in the country or, as is coming up next week, a trip to Peru to hike almost 30 miles at high altitudes to see Macchu Picchu.  

I’ve never asked someone “why would you want to do that?”—I find the question rude. If your idea of a perfect life is steady 9-5 work, with yard work on the weekends in a nice house, that’s great. I’d find that kind of life a slow death.
The thing is, the people who ask why don’t want to hear my answer. They’ve already made up their minds that I’m doing something foolish or dangerous and that it has no place in the life of a well brought up girl like me.
I’m sure people asked Magellan “why would you want to do that?” I wonder if it frustrated him as it frustrates me.
“Why would you want to do that” is not the same as “why would you want to go there?”—a question that simply asks what the interesting points are. My grandmother asked me this second question last week because she didn’t know much about Macchu Picchu. And she listened, interested, at the wonders we will see. And it reminded her of when she went to Australia and got to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and see another part of the world where life was different and where wonders abounded.
I share my grandmother’s love of adventure and travel, and I took to heart her advice to “do these things while you’re young.” There are many things, I’m sure, still on her to-do list that she won’t be able to do in her lifetime. We’re a family of to-do, not a bucket list family—buckets can be put down for years, and the unfinished contents, when gazed upon years later, just fill a person with regret. A to-do list creates a sense of urgency that makes you make it happen. And I know that there will be many things on my grand to-do list, just like my daily to-do list, that just don’t get done in the time allotted. Nevertheless, I have to try—to see the world, to experience something outside my ken, to learn new skills—these are the things that make me feel alive, the things that kill the materialist culture’s hold on me and make me feel closer to God.
But explaining all this to a why-would-you-want-to-do-that person is moot. They ask the question with a judgmental tone and look. I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to talk me out of an activity because of safety, or if it’s through a feeling of superiority because they make “better” financial choices than me. And whatever it is, I don’t care.
So here is my answer. I don’t always give the whole spiel to the person who asks, mostly because I don’t think they care. But this is the truth:
Because why not? Why not do something unusual that fills me with joy? Why not see the beauty that exists in the world? Why not meet new people? If I wasn’t put on this earth to see exotic Patagonia, then why am I alive at all? Why not?
Dear readers, I hope that today you do something because “why not?” and you ignore the naysayers. Michal and I will not be posting for the next two weeks, what with not being willing to drag our computers to Peru and especially on a hike through the Andes mountains. But we’ll be back, and we’ll have even more stories of camping—though this one won’t end in a Holiday Inn, like the stories found here and here.

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