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  • I think the explicit misunderstanding of relative moralism we all have starts in our early childhood. For me it did, anyway.

    There were days, for example, that I truly believed my father was certain about everything in the world, before my family and I moved across the country to escape him. Perhaps this inclination that a man as feeble and misunderstood could know all there is to know about life and living stemmed from the fact that he, my father, was a surgeon. One of the best doctors in the United States Air Force at some point, or so I've been told. Or, more likely, my belief in this single man is a part of the way he worked away from work.

    I remember stumbling into the driveway, my legs growing awkwardly out from my young waist, and seeing Dad's own legs stretching out from beneath our family SUV. My tendency to take apart and reconstruct everything around me comes in-part from this vivid image, but it does not stop there.

    Whenever my younger sister and I flew across the Utah mountains to visit Dad he was always there working on a "project" to fix something or take it apart or some task in-between. But when I was away from him, when the greasy tools and the wooden splinters and the sweat-stained clothing were far from my mind, there was nothing about the world that made sense. Cars, technology, school, friends, and – most importantly – girls, simply made no sense.

    My father, of course, was the statue of understanding about life and moralism and psychology, so I would ask him about these things, these uncertainties. And I would believe him, every brief and masked word that fell from his mouth. Why? Because we all want to believe that life has a sense of direction and things we don't understand make sense, don't we?

    We want to make sense of it all. To feel meaning and to be meaningful. So, in my youthful ignorance, I believed his answers. I believed that if I had a question, Dad would have the answer.

    Then I grew up and I learned the truth. About the divorce and the reason there had always been miles of mountains and cities and sky between our family and our father. I learned that he was flawed, imperfect, that he didn't have the answers. But what's most important is that I learned what I think many of us learn only later in life, as we progress and build our relationships and experience pain and joy and suffering and pleasure...

    That we're all in this mess together and nobody has the answers.

    Some of us pretend to have all the answers, and some of us preach about our answers, but none of us really know what we're doing here. In retrospect, there are no right or wrong answers in life, except for that which we know benefits the greater good, and our greater good, and our happiness.

    Which explains, I believe, why my father so regularly could be found in the garage or out in the back yard taking things apart, trying to see how they work, to fix them or rebuild them or improve them. It's the same reason I'm someone who excels at evaluating the bits and pieces that others can't see. The reason you stare so intently at something you see for the very first time. The reason other's stories intrigue us. The reason you long for what's just beyond the horizon.

    Because we just want to understand.
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