“Middle Age is that perplexing time of life when we hear two voices calling us, one saying, “Why not?” and the other, “Why bother?”
Sydney J. Harris
When I came across this quotation a while back it made me smile in recognition of the ongoing internal dialogue many of us experience during this ‘perplexing time of life’! Two small questions but each with a very different power – one to quash, the other to encourage. I freely admit to having some ‘why bother’ phases of my own but I’m now making a concerted effort to listen more and more to the voice which says ‘Why not?’
It’s true that ‘why bother’ are just two little words but they have defeat, resignation and apathy running right through them – in fact, it’s difficult to even SAY the words without sighing! We’re not even asking a question, instead, we’re giving a resounding answer. Conversation over. Options closed.
But planting ourselves in the ‘why bother’ camp is not an easy nor a comfortable choice. As much as we may think it’s ‘conversation over’ and ‘options closed’ it still does NOT blot out what we know, deep down, to be true – we ARE bothered… it’s just that it all somehow feels too difficult. I keep thinking about that wonderful Catherine Tate character who was always protesting that she ‘ain’t bovvered’ when she so obviously WAS! (Apologies to readers outside the UK who probably have no idea who I’m talking about!)
‘Why bother’ keeps us where we are and stops us trying new things or pushing the edges of our perceived limits. ‘Why not’ on the other hand has a very different power – again they’re just two little words but these two words have challenge, optimism and determination running right through them. Just asking the question… with that little upturned intonation at the end, is an invitation to explore and open ourselves up to a more positive flow of options.
These ‘two voices calling us’ represent a sort of internal crossroads – go one way and you create one type of future… go the other and it’s a different story. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which one is most likely to be the road that leads you to your bigger future.