What do you say when a three-year-old asks, “Why?”

I imagine my 16 month old grandson in about year or so, approaching age three, seeing me skip or pull up or frog hop. He likely will simply relish the play of it all and want to follow along. Or, he will do something silly and different than me and say, “Grandpa, do!” And, there is just as much chance he will look at me and ask that magic three-year-old question: “Why?”

In my blog introduction I implied that my reason for training has to do with my grandson. That’s true. And yet, it’s not totally true. Many a grandpa lives for their grandchildren, physical status aside. They enjoy their company, they are present to and immersed in them when they are together. They share joy and love them unconditionally. I could be inactive and also live for my grandson in that same way.

I strive for something different.

Why do I care to explore activity and movement as a sixty-one year old? ? That answer is multilayered, layer upon layer of Why, eventually all peeled away to reveal the core Why.

Why? Because I was an overweight, inactive kid who didn’t or couldn’t do any of the stuff I play with now, and I still have a chance to do that stuff.

Why? Because I missed the joy of physical activity and physical presence for so much of my life that I am still seeking fulfillment and contentment in my body and what it can do and how I feel about it.

Why? Because I want to yet find pride in my body and what it can accomplish.

Why? Because even after I experienced physical activity and accomplishment in some decades of my adult life, I still felt incapable and inadequate throughout most of that.

Why? Because I’ve always wanted to look better, feel more vibrant, be stronger, be more capable and talented, and feel as if I’ve squandered most opportunities to attain those attributes.

Why? Because I still yearn to connect physical activity, ability, and effort with fun and happiness.

Why? Because I still want to be noticed, recognized, complimented for some aspect of my physicality since I never got that in the first 33 years of my life and don’t feel that I got it sufficiently in the years following that.

Why? Because I feel a clock ticking and want to take advantage of what I can while I can.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Doing self-reflection on the reasons I still train and explore is like having an internal conversation with a three year old. I strive to still deeply connect to a reason — the reason — why I want to do what I do.

As I’ve become ever more spiritual, mature (wise?) in my years past fifty, I’ve come to understand how ego comes into play in life. There is nothing wrong with any of the reasons I mentioned above; they all are instigators of what are essentially positive actions. If someone asked my why I train, I could answer with any of those above reasons and it could be a sufficient answer. And yet, each of them ties into ego: into doubt, into inadequacy, into frustration or anger, into image, into longing, into self, into fear.

Once I started being active in my adult Taekwondo years, it was precisely ego and those various ways it shows up that caused me to NOT progress as much as I might have done so. In Taekwondo I often did not try my best for fear of failure, and hence proof that I really WAS not capable, which sometimes led precisely to the very failure I hoped to avoid. When I began my first-ever strength training at age 42, I squandered the opportunities to both lean up and to build muscle and strength because I did not commit to one primarily goal, fearing that I would be missing out on the other. Confucius said ,”The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” I guess that made me an ego-impaired, hungry bastard.

For me all of the Whys I listed above are imperfect. They relate to my Self; they come from ego. There was always too much fear and longing in those Whys. In all of my previous motivations, pursuits and accomplishments, I never achieved contentment.

I have come to experience only one reason that overcomes — transforms — ego. That reason is love. Love is not Self. Love is outside myself; it is about others, about another. I experience love as being more powerful than any ego-pull.

Ego resulted in all of my previous efforts to become imperfect efforts: too much, not enough, too long, not long enough, too much seeking, not enough doing and being. Aggression and impatience. Lack of progress and lack of contentment because of imperfect effort, fueled by ego.

Doing something for love is the only driver that has led me to a true sense of purpose, and to be able to gain proper perspective on my effort. If I am pulled by love, I really, then, don’t want to screw up.

I love my wife, so I am moved to try to be able to physically meet our life demands in the upcoming years. I love my mom, and I drawn to stay strong and vibrant so I can meet any call upon my time and energy as she ages further. I love my children and their families, and want to be able to be present to them for as long as possible.

So, when Christian hits age three and sees me doing some skipping or pull ups or frog hops and happens to ask, “Grandpa, why?” I can simply reply, “Because grandpa loves you!”

And, for the record, I still simply want to be able to do some cool stuff as an older guy!

Your Turn: What have been some of your positive and less than positive motivations and actions? What’s your experience of effort and intention? What keeps you going? What brings you contentment and fulfillment? Please respond with a comment!

What I’ve done and what I’ve seen recently:
– Walked the dog (every day, twice a day).
– Did the Happy Feet yoga session by Rachel Scott at DoYogaWithMe.com. Great site, great instructor.
I recently learned about Deanna Price, American women’s hammer throw competitor, and her motivations. The motivations reference begin at around 2:50, but it’s fun to watch this woman so just play the entire clip.

Published by

Chris Correia

I live in Northern Minnesota, am a Massachusetts native, a 35-year husband, a grandpa, a former taekwondo instructor, a bit of a yoga guy, a student of Ignatian spirituality, a good-natured joker, and I now work with blind teens and adults.

2 thoughts on “What do you say when a three-year-old asks, “Why?””

  1. Hey Chris, you hit the nail on the head. It is the same reply I give you the question why do I bother spending time and effort working out. It was true that I wanted to ensure that I could play actively with him and not just watch him. However, that has morphed into something else, I train fairly consistently and now I have to give you the Why. There are so many layers to this. I often said that I want to walk too my funeral and not be carried, definitely as a joke, but there is an element of truth to that. I would like to stay for till the end. On the other hand staying for and mobile does not mean I have to work so hard on the rings etc. That I do because I challenge myself to see what I can do, being retired a lot of how’s you defined yourself is in the past, your achievements and qualifications do not count for much do maybe this is a compensation. Then not to be taken lightly is the great community that I have on Instagram, they motivate and inspire me and I am very thankful to you and the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kanti, I do think that work on the rings is part of being mobile. Muscle strength, core strentgh, joint health, it’s all part of good aging. There are four things I’ve read about in regards to senior years and signs of deterioration that I keep in mind: 1. Not being able to easily get up off the floor. 2). Glute strength/development. 3) Getting off of a chair with no hands, or sitting with no “plopping”. 4) (Not an official medical one) being able to clean your own backside after using the toilet! 🙂 🙂 🙂 And, Kanti, I also think that what we do helps define who we are, just like the opposite is true (how we define ourselves affects what we do). You, my distant, online friend, are capable and adventuresome!


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