Finding a Better Reason
by Ken La Salle
Welcome back to my continuing series of Rules For Life.
I was out walking through one of our regional parks the other day, enjoying the morning and the still serenity of nature. And as I walked out of the park, passing cars lined up to enter, I watched as one driver honked his horn at another. “Move your car,” the driver yelled, seemingly as loud as he could. The driver actually said much more than this but, as you can imagine with an angry driver, there was an aggressive dollop of seasoning mixed in, mostly with swear words.
As I later explained to my wife, “Here was a guy surrounded by nature, heading towards miles of beauty. What did he have to yell about?”
“But he wasn’t heading towards miles of beauty,” my wife corrected. “He was probably taking his kid when he would rather have stayed in front of the TV. He wasn’t angry at the other driver. He was angry at his situation.”
This explanation changed the way I viewed that experience, casting a different light on the angry driver’s response.
We all do things we would rather not do. Going to work. Washing dishes. Everyone has their own list of unavoidable duties and chores. As we mature, however, most of us come to realize that these duties, however unpleasant they might be, are a necessary evil. It’s the work in our lives that makes room for play. The unpleasantness provides perspective that makes more pleasant activities more than simply pleasant.
The essential problem, at least as I see it, is in finding better reasons for doing those things we would rather not. When we are still young, before we’re fortunate enough to find maturity, all we can see are things we “have to do.” That’s how we see chores as a child, as things we have to do. While that is true, it’s an oversimplification that suits us poorly.
When we divide our lives into those things we want to do and those things we have to do, we paint our world with black and white. We lack color. And while we may find life easier to manage, it’s simply less fulfilling.
This is why we need to find better reasons. This is how, as we mature, we realize the benefits of having better reasons. The reason you go to work is not just because you have to. There could be a kaleidoscope of reasons ranging from how employment helps you buy those things you want all the way to, if you’re lucky, the fulfillment derived from a job well done. Dishes aren’t washed simply because we have to; clean dishes make our meals taste much better!
This brings me back to that driver at the park. If my wife was right and that driver did see himself as strictly tied to a chore he had to do, he was ruining his day much more than the person who wouldn’t move their car. Imagine all that he was missing! He was surrounded by nature, just to start. He probably had some good music on the radio. He may have been with a loved one. To be angry in such a situation is to overlook all the qualities you have to be thankful for – and, yet, we all do that very thing.
Each day, we overlook qualities in our lives that, were they to be seen, could improve our outlook immensely.
And so, I say to you “Find a better reason!” Don’t be satisfied in simply telling yourself that you have to do something, that some chore is required of you, or that you have no choice. Right or not, such a way of seeing the world limits your measure of happiness, restricts your joy, and convinces you that life is simply black and white.
And what a terrible shame that would be.
About the Author
Author and Playwright, Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue-collar roots, which have given him a progressive and environmentalist view. As a result, you’ll find many of his stories touching those areas both geographically and philosophically. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at www.kenlasalle.com.