That question was recently asked by what could have been a younger, curious version of myself.
A few times each month, I spend three hours of bliss volunteering in a small bookshop.
I get to meet interesting people, stroke and skim through the latest items placed on the shelves. Not a month goes by without me purchasing something of interest to me or someone I love. I like the fact that sales revenues go towards purchasing new books and supporting programs for our local libraries. Being in that book shop is the closest I can get to working in a library – for now 🙂
My recent volunteer shift was graced by the usual lingering regulars and families attending events nearby. It warms my heart when children express delight as they find a book or two that they want their parents to buy.
One particular tot caught my attention while exploring books with her older sister, parents and grandmother. She approached the front desk, her blonde head barely above the counter, her blue eyes peering at me.
“What’s your name?” she asked in a sweet and barely audible voice.
I responded with a smile and asked about hers. Her Mother responded on her behalf due to the child’s limited conversation skills.
Then the child asked, “Why are you here?”
“Why am I here? Well… I like books, I like meeting new people and selling them books.”
Then she skittered away to explore the shelves with her family.
Soon she returned to ask again “Why are you here?”.
After I repeated my previous response I wanted to ask the wee thing if she was being philosophical about the big picture but I decided it would just confuse matters.
It was cute. It was thought-provoking in a naive kind of way.
I think that was a helpful experience for those basic queries we should ask ourselves often, like “Why am I here?”.
If we cannot answer the why, we could at least ask, “What am I doing during my time here?”.