If you don’t have the slightest idea what you are for—well, what a great starting point to find some focus and definition in your life, or to figure out how to spend your time in the most meaningful way? What do you want your life to be for? - Katie Read
"What That Man For?"
Katie Read, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Lately, my 2 ½ year old has become a philosopher.
Not that he’s full of answers, per
se, but he’s definitely full of questions.
Existential ones. Questions that
might keep you up at night, if you let them.
Some of the less intense questions still
throw me into that momentary parental panic—mouth open, abrupt silence, my mind
grasping at an answer.
He holds up a toy and asks, “Mommy,
what my truck mean?”
“Your truck doesn’t mean anything,
baby, it’s just a toy for you to have fun with.”
He looks at me, clearly displeased
with this explanation. On to the next. “Mommy, what my guitar mean?” Pause.
“What my dinosaur mean?”
At this point, I’m breaking a mild
But these aren’t even the deepest of
our daily questions. The one he’s fondest
of now is the one I try to avoid people hearing, since I prefer to not cause a
stranger a nervous breakdown in the middle of Raley’s.
“Mommy,” he says loudly, pointing
at a passerby, “what that man for?”
Oh, god. Deep breath.
What that man for? What that lady for?
And this is where my head spins out
a bit too much and I do actually wonder for a second about these strangers
Spencer has a fleeting interest in. What
are they for? Is that man for loving
someone? For raising someone? For inventing something? For making people
laugh? For quietly creating? For caring about the elderly or animals or
gun violence? What is that man for?
And me, oh geez, what am I
for? Is my life really for dealing with
the little daily detritus that so often consumes it? I dearly hope not. So what is my life for? Have I defined it? Do I have a sense? If I am here for
something, am I giving time to figuring out what, and prioritizing it? And do we necessarily get to know what we are
for, or are we all more like those fifth-grade teachers who have no idea you’re
still thinking about them 30 years later?
Are we all for making little ripples on the water that we never see the
So I apologize if I see you at the
grocery store, and my little blonde boy grins at you and loudly asks, “what
that lady for?” I’ll never know, and maybe
you’ll never know, but maybe your family does, and I bet those closest to you
could answer him easily. If you don’t
have the slightest idea what you are for—well, what a great starting point to
find some focus and definition in your life, or to figure out how to spend your
time in the most meaningful way? What do
you want your life to be for? What
would you say to my little guy if you could actually answer his question? And—here’s the great part of this
exercise—he’s only two, so how could you make it simple enough for him to
understand? Because really, if a
two-year-old can’t get it, we’re probably overthinking, overtalking, and
missing the core.
So lady, or man, what you for?
Katie Read, MFT provides mental health therapy and counseling in Roseville and Granite Bay, CA. She loves working with individuals and couples. Please visit her at www.katiereadtherapy.com.
Labels: family life, Katie Read, Life Purpose, Meaning