The question of 'why' has always intrigued me, and indeed has been part of my entire life. My first job, ever, as a reporter centered almost exclusively around the answers given after the utterance of the word - a situation likely to continue on and on as my communications, and writing, career evolves.
But, if you think about it, all our lives revolve around why. Every day. Nearly every minute. Why do we work? Why do we buy homes or rent? Why do we have children? Why do we love potato chips? Why do we try to teach cats, well, anything?
It's hope, I suppose. Simple hope. It came to me today in, of all places, a cave. Not as a roaring epiphany, but a grunting excuse to keep going in a small rocky crawl way. To understand the realization, here's the back story. For some dozen years, or more, I've been a caver - just a fun hobby of exploring caves, studying them, protecting them, or trying to. Not spelunking, though. There's a saying: Cavers rescue spelunkers. Anyway, the chief adventure has been volunteering at Carter Caves, a fine Kentucky state park that hosts a wintertime caving fest. We called it Crawlathon for many years until white nose syndrome - a disease of bats, and a whole other story - forced many caves to close to protect the bats. Some wet, floodprone caves unsuitable for bats remain open, which is where I found myself today, daughter in tow, mapping out a route for a wild cave tour we're volunteering to guide in a couple of weeks. It's a kids trip, and she'll lead part of it.
Now, you may be tempted to say my epiphany - simple hope, remember - is tied to lofty father-teaches-daughter moments. But, it's not. At one point, we looked around us, the scalloped limestone above and beside us, and below our knees, the slowly dripping stalactites, saw the spiders and the crickets and solitary bats, and listened as the dark echoed with the methodical time it took to create the world, whatever your belief system. And, it felt exquisite. And hopeful.
Despite the ragtag run-amok world of humans, a little world apart runs smoothly underground, without a lot of bother from man or woman. The time I give, have given, to exploring, showing others, sometimes preaching a bit about the importance of protecting our environment? Nothing, compared to the hope I have reaped, undeserving, as reward.