Encountering a homeless guy on a dark and lonely sidestreet isn’t always a happy situation; I was nervous. But the man, tall, swaying, reeking of booze and piss, only blocked my path for a moment.

“What is your why?” he asked, and moved aside.

There’s a big, empty parking lot for the survivalist-surplus store next to Nicholas, where I’d just had dinner with friends. Angry signs threaten all kinds of punishment if you try to park there, even when the store is closed, so I’d parked at the first empty space, way down the street.

The guy was still watching me, so I quickly moved the 15 feet or so to my car and slipped inside, locking the doors. He didn’t move; it was too dark to see his face, but he was still standing there as I drove by.

I thought about it on the way home: What is my why?

I’m not gonna get all existentialist on anybody, but I’m really big on why things happen. Some days, everybody seems to be on autopilot; I start thinking that nobody knows WHY they do anything. There’s no strategy there, no questioning if maybe there’s a better way, they just do it.

Drives me nuts. I want to know the why behind everything. Always have.

And yet…what is my why? Why am I driven to create stuff? Why do I write? Why am I so hung up on the stuff I’m hung up on?

Wow. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever asked that particular why before. There’s some homeless guy down in the industrial district that I need to thank. Or maybe slap.

What is your why?