Just Because

Yesterday my friend Andy gave me an old, brass vase. It wasn’t my birthday, I hadn’t accomplished anything special, it wasn’t even an anniversary of our friendship. I asked Andy why he gave it to me. He said, “just because”. That’s a part of Andy’s personality. Out of nowhere, he feels the urge to be generous and then follows through on impulse.

When something happens, people want a reasonable explanation for why it took place. When thinking of gift giving, there are the usual reasons for doing so, holidays, achievement of milestones, birthdays, apologies, bribing for a favor, and so forth. When you get a gift, seemingly for no reason at all, the gift seems extra special. If the giver is asked why and his response is, “just because”, it usually means he was thinking pleasant thoughts about you.

Life rarely conforms into neat formulae and reasons for people’s actions don’t always exist. Human psychology isn’t neat and clean like physical science. We can explain the nuclear processes that power our Sun, but your son can’t reasonably explain why he got a speeding ticket. Sometimes we have to settle for the generic answer, “just because”.

When a person sincerely wishes to discover the reason for an event or the make up of some substance she diligently inquires into its properties and will perform some sort of experiment–either formal or informal. If she is scientifically oriented, she will go on to form likely hypotheses to explain the event or chemical property. To say, “just because” when explaining why combining vinegar and baking soda results in effervescence, is an unsatisfactory response.

When trying to express matters of the heart in interpersonal relationships, it is often better to detour past rational psychological reasons. This is especially helpful when dealing with fondness and love. The writer Anaïs Nin once said, “Do not seek the because–in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.” This may not be a wise approach, but it is a very human way of doing things.

On the other hand, have you noticed that a person of questionable moral fortitude or a liar needs to formulate an alibi or reasonable-sounding excuse to explain away accusations of wrong-doing? If the miscreant is clever enough, he can fabricate reasons to justify anything he does. If he believes that a good story will absolve him of guilt, he’ll tell it because he knows “just because” is not a good alibi.

As is the case with kind-hearted people like Andy, we have to accept the idea that often there is no rational explanation for his generosity. People like him don’t understand, for sure, why they behave the way they do.

When your friend does a random favor for you and says he did it “just because”, simply thank him for thinking about you and bask in your friend’s adoration of you.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes humorist Dave Barry. “In fact, when you get right down to it, almost every explanation Man came up with for anything until about 1926 was stupid.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Friendship, Meanderings, Science and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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