Ours is not to wonder why…

Boats heading out to meet fish

Boats heading out to meet fish

…We have bigger fish to fry!

About a year ago Barry’s ex-colleague lazily suggested one late autumn morning in between coffee sips, “Ours is not to wonder why…”

and Barry, ever-the-fisherman replied, “We have bigger fish to fry!”

He told me this today, a year later, in between fascinating tales about who-knows-what as we sat on the couch swapping Sunday stories.

He said he and Cathy came up with this quote early one morning before work. Barry,  a weekly newspaper editor and columnist said, “There has to be a column in this.”

Cathy laughed.

I laughed and laughed this afternoon until I remembered how Cathy died last February.

Then the laughter stopped.

Flowers, sea

Flowers, sea

His ex-colleague died at her desk of heart failure one fine February afternoon an hour or so after he headed out on the bay to go ice fishing.  He had said to her, “See you tomorrow?” and she replied, “No, I don’t think so.”

And she was right.  Instead, she died.


One moment typing headlines; the next moment gone.

I often try to figure out “why”.

Don’t you?

Why did this happen?  Why DIDN’T this happen?

We try to figure out the whys and wherefores.

Why did Cathy die and Barry catch fish?

Why did Kathy remain to write blogs?

Why do we now know her brother, Mike?

Why, why, why?

The doorway between knowing

The doorway between knowing

Two year olds question all the time.

Why does one person edit their blogs at least sixteen times, refusing to sleep until its published?

Why does another rarely edit at all?

Why do YOU not write a blog?

Perhaps it’s bigger than our individual decisions.  Perhaps a wise all-knowing Universe decides.

Perhaps we can never figure out why. Perhaps asking “why” is always impossible because no definitive answer can be discovered.

Ours is not to wonder why…

we have bigger fish to fry.

Are you the kind of person who ponders why, why, why? Or do you let “why” swim deep in the lake of your not-knowing, sometimes allowing it to be an unanswerable mystery?

I think I do both.

What about you?

The reason why

The reason why




About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in September 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Ours is not to wonder why…

  1. But asking why is fun – sometimes…

  2. Carol says:

    Mostly I do not ask why, I just deal. Mostly.

  3. Reggie says:

    Gosh, Kathy… you do like making us think, don’t you. … Hm…

  4. I think we were born to ask why.
    But we were born to never know the answer.

  5. Heather says:

    I do both. And sometimes I ask why before stopping myself when it becomes obvious there just isn’t an answer.

  6. lisaspiral says:

    I still catch myself asking why, but I think I’m also more willing to recognize when there’s probably not an answer that matters. Why moves us forward when it leads us to learning, it holds us back when it becomes an excuse to stay obsessed with a perceived wrongness. Hard sometimes to tell the difference.

  7. Janet says:

    I have a friend in her mid-70s who says, “Always question why.” I never thought of asking that question until I met her seven years ago.

  8. dawnkinster says:

    I don’t think I ask why very often. I think I believe in something I can’t understand that controls all the reasons why. I think.

  9. Susan Derozier says:

    I think I ask why far less than I did in my younger years. I seem to be in a “what is….is” state of mind these days. Your story about Barry’s friend touches me deeply. Rather than thinking “why” I find the word “how” presenting itself. ie…how did she know on some deep level. Always you keep us thinking Kathy.

  10. Susan D says:

    Deeply thinking about all this … still, sad feelings about Barry’s friend and coworker — Cathy. I am more an asker of “why” – I can’t help myself – until I come to the point of reconciliation with “our is not to wonder why.” Thanks for this today, Kathy…

  11. john says:

    When it is an act of man I may question it. When it is an act of God, I have stopped questioning and just try to figure out what needs to be done next. I spend more time these days appreciating what is put in front of me. A large part of that is thanks to you.

  12. Elisa says:

    I feel the swat of Karma swatting back at me–I do not so much as ponder why, I ponder about just knowing the why. Oh, this is not so much true–eying the impending swattage. I DO wonder whyyyyyy do I know why. So, I guess, I failed or didn’t or something like that.

    Oh now dammit I am recalling some of our phonecalls, regarding issues of understanding. Sigh. I think I cleverly–or not so much, just trade in the word Why for something else. Hopefully, I have progressed from the poor me type of whys to the oh why is the sky so blue, awesome and wonder-filled kinds of why.

  13. Great questions, Kathy. I’ve learned over the years that for the most part, “why” doesn’t matter. Things simply are. It’s wise to let them remain that way.

    But how sad to hear about Barry’s colleague. I’m sorry she died, but maybe she died doing what she loved–at least I hope so.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  14. Celeste says:

    Kathy, I do ask “why” because I feel that every moment is a lesson. I try not to worry about the “why” but just take it as it is. “Hmm, is there something for me to learn here? Something I could hear from the Universe?”

  15. Brenda Hardie says:

    Kathy, when I was a little girl, I never asked why because it always got me in trouble. You know the old adage—children should be seen and not heard, But later on, I discovered that questions filled my soul and I asked them over and over. Now, I realize that often the answers remain unknown and that is ok. Sometimes it feels good to not have all the answers and to let it all go. The release of that control is liberating. And allowing things to just BE opens the soul.
    Please know my thoughts and prayers are going up today for Barry’s colleague—I do remember when she passed and the heartache everyone felt as a result of her departure from this world. I think she is smiling down today at you and Barry for remembering her and this topic that she and Barry so playfully created.

  16. Barb says:

    The answer to why doesn’t matter so much – but not asking the question does. Love these photos, Kathy – they make me ask “why.”

  17. I ask why until I am tired of asking why; but sometimes I bask in not knowing–it all depends.
    A friend of mine once explained it to me to my dissatisfaction–she said that life is a series of losses–it is true but I try not to dwell there

  18. I enjoy dancing with both partners: WHY and NOT-KNOWING because they both have qualities that I enjoy. And they’re both shameless flirts! Who can resist dancing with a flirt?

  19. Robin says:

    I waffle between both, asking and not asking. Sometimes there is no why, or if there is, the answer wouldn’t satisfy.

  20. dorannrule says:

    Life is full of so many unanswerable questions that is futile to ask why. Still we do and we make up our own answers and then are surprised when they are wrong.

  21. The Universe is wise. It is not ours to question.
    My thoughts.

  22. I ask why or why not because I’m human and curious. Acceptance of what is or is not seems to me to be the only ‘answer’.

  23. I’d say I’m a bit of both…I like to get inwardly curious, about myself and others, but I leave the big stuff alone to be the magic mystery it is. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m OK with not knowing what that reason is sometimes. Thanks for this thought provoking post. H xxx

  24. Marko says:

    I wish you a great week!

  25. me2013 says:

    ‘Why’ Because it is written. I believe that when you are born your life is already wrote out for you, and we simply go along that track, we make the decisions we are meant to make, do the things we are meant to do, even if we do like to think we have free will. So the answer to why is because that’s the way it’s meant to be. Saying that I do sometimes question the sense behind why bad things happen to good people

  26. You’re being very philosophical, today! 🙂

    Personally, I think I’d rather ask the question, ‘What if…’ It makes for better stories. 🙂

    When someone passes away, my husband always says, ‘I guess it was just their time to go.’ I think it’s his way of rationalizing when there really isn’t an answer to ‘why?’ There’s also the saying, ‘When one door closes, another one opens.’ I think it’s a way for the universe to keep balance, the yin & the yang, so to speak. It’s like the air in this big blue ball of ours, which must be recycled because it can’t escape our atmosphere. Who knows whose exhale we inhale with every breath we take? Perhaps, it was Leonardo da Vinci’s or Shapkespeare’s.

    When someone dies, another is born. The native Americans/Canadians believe that our spirit (energy) leaves our body and is reborn in another living being. It isn’t always another person. Sometimes it’s a plant or an animal. That’s why they had so much respect for their environment because when they killed something for food, they could have been killing an ancestor.

    Thanks for asking the question, ‘why’. 🙂

  27. I feel that I spend more time responding and reacting to events than wondering why. Perhaps if I questioned more, I would learn more from experiences. Thanks, Kathy!

  28. msmcword says:

    I am sorry about Barry’s colleague.

    I am inclined to ponder and go into deep thought about the “why” of just about anything that happens to me. Earlier this month a friend suddenly turned against me, and as of now I think she no longer wants me in her life (I wrote a post about it on my blog http://www.msmcword.wordpress.com and I titled it “I’m Fired”). I am having a hard time getting past asking myself why this happened.

    Sometimes the hardest thing is to accept that we will never have the answer to our “Why”.


  29. I WIlkerson says:

    I have been thinking some lately about the stages of life and how it shapes your outlook–probably as my kids go through a lot of life transitions (college, driving, etc) and my parent’s generation passes on. I decided that you think about what you need to at different ages and this take a lot of energy, all that fish frying…

  30. bonnie says:

    I suppose I do both, however I have to admit that I have so many ‘whys’ in my head that they become overwhelming. Knowing that I’ll probably never know the answer, doesn’t stop me from asking. I much prefer your ending to ‘ours is not to wonder why’, instead of the other one, that always pops into my head.

  31. I would say I ask “why?” on a need-to-know basis.

  32. Lori D says:

    I’m not really a wonderer of ‘why,’ although I used to be. I’m more of a ‘what if’ kinda girl, and always feel I need to have a plan ‘just in case.’ It’s the control-freak in me. Lovely post. I’ll be back home soon.

  33. I often ask and contemplate the question, “Why?”. Being a guy, I try to solve the question. Sometimes I am successful, other times I get frustrated in trying. Sometimes there is no answer to that question and I have to let it go. In my youth, I had a hard time letting go…now I am a little wiser and can.

  34. To me, Why can sometimes lead to whining. Why, in terms of what’s next, is the where the gift is….saying- This happened. Now, this is happening. And why, well, why exists, but does not motivate. Like unraveling a ball of yarn, why can lead me to necessary clarity and that is helpful, but there are certain balls of yarn I’d prefer to leave knotted. There are other fish to fry.
    xoxoox S

  35. Death seems so random at times… Most of us seem to be born wondering why things are the way they are on this planet, and it’s probably a good thing because it means we possess curiosity and the desire to investigate, explore and make discoveries. But the satisfaction of finding some answers, if we do happen to find a few, doesn’t last very long because the universe is evolving and forever changing the answers. It took me a long time to stop clinging to dogma and to allow myself to question everything once again. And to stay peacefully with not-knowing. And I LOVE what Joan Tollifson writes about all this – thanks so much for the suggested reading, my friend!

  36. Sheryl says:

    What a thoughtful post! I’m one of those people who tends to wonder why–and then I just plunge ahead.

  37. Stacy says:

    I have done a lot of question-asking in my life, Kathy. I have come to find out that E.B. White’s character Trexler in his short story “The Second Tree from the Corner” is the only question that matters: What Do You Want?

    When all the other questions demand my attention – at the same time, mind you, because they never leave me alone – I shut them up by asking myself Trexler’s question. It usually keeps the others at bay. ❤

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