Y is a Crooked Letter.
While strolling on a Bahamian beach the day after our sea rescue near the southern Berry Islands, Lainie found, amongst a myriad of shells, three coral Y's we washed up on a Chub Cay shore. We chuckled as we asked WHY?
Then in a ridiculous and futile attempt to clarify and satisfy some understanding of our recent sailing struggles, I considered our WHYs and WHY NOTs. It finally became apparent that our two months of sailing travails began to make sense: Y knots punish sailors (all humans). (Note the Y knot at right)
As we considered more possibilities, the idea that we had knotted ourselves by our WHY NOT's and Y KNOTs hit our behind-minds. Of course, without satisfactory answers, our earthling questions seemed to fare no better. Despite the fact, we and they had floated shore, how could "WHY NOTS", "Y NOTS", "WHY KNOTS" or "Y KNOTs" beach themselves? At first when I considered our questions unnecessary and unimportant, I dismissed them. Certainly no beach would ever explain Y coral's existence any more than it would explain its absence. And none would suddenly float ashore - they were lightweight stone-like objects with enough weight to sink to the bottom. Yet at first my tendency to get to the bottom of things seemed useless, then I discovered it was.
Ah, so whenever perplexed, I turned to Nature. She always had the answer to the question - HOW WOULD NATURE RESPOND? Probably needless to explain, Nature has a standard answer: "I always given unconditionally", yet never in the history of mankind has mankind be absolutely satisfied with her explanation for its existence. Since the beginning of time, Nature has NOT needed to explain anything to humans. Despite this fact, humanity has often insisted upon an explanation to WHY. Maybe compelled by conditioning to satisfy some insurance company-like mind-set, an explanation seemed vital and valuable. Even though it isn't.
Then I stopped asking the WHY and WHY NOTs. Just to see what would happen. Neither really matter. If "doesn't matter" is true, then WHY would a Y need a reason? Then it follows that WHY even ask or question it? Like Nature and letters of the alphabet, Ys' simply exist. They just are. No explanation really alters or denies that fact. Yet I could not deny that only humans deny what truly happens. Some actually make-up their own reality to suit their perspective.
So it wasn't surprising I barely could grasp WHY the Universe had arranged for my catamaran to lose both its rudders....and then WHY my catamaran had ended up disabled at a fishing house dock at Chub Cay Marina in the Bahamas? Why had we so many challenges sailing? Why consider any WHY or Y? Why am I even writing about "WHY and Y" especially since neither of them seem to lead to any meaningful or valuable conclusion? Don't I have to have a conclusion to tie up all the loose ends? Ah, but tying up loose ends would certainly create a knot - a WHY KNOT and a Y KNOT! Maybe Y KNOT questions help me see unnecessary answers and conclusions. Maybe the WHY is the Y KNOT in the human struggle - to untie itself and accept struggle as it is. It is what it is....isn't it?
When Lainie and I sailed to the Bahamas it seemed quite obvious to ask both "Why sail to the Bahamas?" and "Why not sail to the Bahamas?" And when Mystique lost both of her rudders, when we needed to make a MAYDAY distress call, when I needed to jump overboard twice, when we needed to be rescued, the WHY question seemed to pop up. I knew HOW the events had happened, yet the WHY question still persisted. Then I realized WHY NOT view the absence of an answer as an answer. Still I was curious why Lainie and I were presented with these challenges on our Bahamian cruise? While asking WHY questions may seem impossible to answer, how much do WHY answers really matter? We humans ask WHY without even asking WHY NOT?. Why not see life differently? Why not explore the whys and why nots of life? I have my reasons and my answers for both pairs, but the interesting to me is that these opposite-seeming questions are NOT opposites. They are just different. And as such don't attract opposite answers. Take a closer look at the image above. There may be four knots tied to this y knot, but nothing is clear WHY the knot. Used like a cat-a-nine-tails?
It seems to me most of us humans feel answers make an event more palatable, more digestible, more real and more understandable. Yet that is not true - as the supposed insight doesn't change what happened or give the cause more credibility. As if our judging an outcome labels an event, when in reality it defines us. Comprehension of something may appear to help, but in a sense understanding just gets in the way of accepting it....maybe we become attached to having to know its cause so it does or doesn't happen again. That's our justification for knowing the answer, when in reality each situation is unique and knowing won't prevent it from happening again. How will it or won't it occur again?
Many of us hear shallow responses like: "Because I tell you to, that's why?" Yet a "no" answer suggests the respondee doesn't have or know a true reason. But there are no "real" answers or maybe answering is the knot. Isn't someone not giving the right answer is in itself a knot - one that is indeed difficult to untangle.
"Yet WHY NOT jump off a bridge?"; "Why NOT perform optical surgery on yourself?" "Why not vote for Trump" These are questions that need no response. They are self-evident...to some people! Some WHY KNOTS have clear, obvious answers. But don't most answers depend on the questions one asks oneself? Like "Why study algebra?" is not equivalent to "why not study algebra?" The first has definite reasons such as to learn math, to improve my algebra skills, to impress my teacher, to receive a good grade, to use later in life or some other reason. As a teacher when I helped students with "WHY" questions, I would explain that asking and answering require different skills. Not asking says something while not answering also says a great deal. Yet their opposites do not necessarily create opposite answers. No questioning is not questioning while not answering is an answer.
I always thought a reasonable explanation would help one understand, think and problem-solve. But "why not" questions are mental knots because they tie up a responses into complex answers: WHY NOT solve cancer? WHY NOT a remedy for world poverty and hunger? free electricity? How about individual equality? civil rights? availability and accessibility of clean water? school shootings? universal health care? human slavery? end to hatred and prejudice? Clean air and water? end of war? Why not world peace? global warming? WHY NOT? WHY NOT love and acceptance? All complex, multilayered, not-easily answered.
“WHY NOT” questions. “WHY NOT sail to the Bahamas?” you ask or “WHY NOT raise more sail?” Sometimes a “WHY NOT” appears as a challenge something like “WHY NOT swim with sharks?” Or “WHY NOT climb our mast on a windy day?”
What about a “WHY KNOT”? A WHY KNOT actually asks why a knot is being used or WHY NOT something else? “WHY NOT cook some beans for dinner again?” or “WHY NOT tie or untie the knot.?” When purpose is questioned, reason is often rationalized. “We tied why knots so we felt more secure.” you respond. Some why nots suggest like “Why not raise a spinnaker?” or “Why not sail upwind?”. Why did the Gordian Knot so stump people for generations? The solution appeared so easy after Alexander the Great untied the knot, but the simple don't often seen the simple answer. WHY KNOT when the solution seems so simple?
So what about a WHY NOT? Knots tie up or connect lines, often hold a line in place. But never a “WHY NOT” onboard a ship. All sailing knots have a nautical place and purpose. On the other hand, WHY NOT tie ties. And WHY KNOTs slip; it’s a slip knot like the knots don’t hold any real sway or weight. Maybe a WHY KNOT is abbreviated? Is a “WHY KNOT” an answer? a reason? a question? a possibility? an option? Were those who asked “WHY KNOT this or that? A Y certainty becomes a symbol for a necktie. Who willingly wears a noose around their neck? An albatross? Maybe those fit to be tied? Maybe each knot suits the wearer! Suits the tie? Why not?
No place for Y-knots on boats. Why knots have all ways been unacceptable on ships. No crew questions authority. Only following commands works. A questionable knot not only delays but also undermines captains. So why knots up orders and asks for an explanation. No why is permitted in the navy on board ship. Questioning command questions leadership. But when lead wrong by self interest or ego, how to respond? A slippery knot would be untied and retried again with a secure. If you know this knot is slippery, why use it? it doesn’t secure anything of substance. Certainly a tie is only an ornament! And a Y is surely a knot - one wrapped around a man’s neck. But asking why is looking for a reason, a cause, a purpose. Its the purpose that need to be examined and untied; not the knot. But then again the knot is the not asking the right questions or seeing the possible answers.
Surely every man knots his own career considered formal wear for most men! Tied with a slip knot, tightens one’s collar leaving just enough space to breath, swallow and occasionally respond while working to the standards of some system. But why? Tightened like a choke collar, a tie doesn’t certainly make men submit or conform to a dress code or some outdated standards. “Men”tality or “men”tal abilities choose that course. But anything that ties a certain conformity suits them. “Why not?” clucks the chicken before he crosses the busy highway.
No sailor uses such a slippery knot on a sailing vessel. Sailing uses many such sturdy knots as the bowline, clove hitch, half hitch, figure eight, square or sheep shank to connect or secure lines. Sailing does not choke crew into requiring their conformity. While some neophyte sailors may confess to a stomach tied in knots, few will “tie the knot” during their tenure aboard or ask “why not” when they first step on a deck. A Y-knot does not exist, except in one’s imagination. A “WHY NOT” becomes a WHY KNOT when one has no better, freer option. But anyone asking himself or herself this question, is likely to be perplexed. Maybe a WHY KNOT is a Y-KNOT.
A Y by itself is not of course a knot; it doesn't tie one up. It may be a crooked letter and a crooked question. A WHY or a WHY NOT aren't what is knotted. It's their varied judgmental answers that tie humans into knots with the need to provide an answer even when there is none. A "Y" may be a crooked letter in the alphabet and commonly confused with sounding like WHY or mixed up with the suffix "ie", yet those confusion don't appear to create the main problem. That humans often desiring an answer is the knot.
Odd how nature NEVER supplies a reason for its existence - while mankind always wants a reason. The fact that humans are often tied to an explanation may suggest the Y-knot is human misunderstanding. Could the three represent three Y's (wisemen? wise guys?) Could they suggest many of us have yet to comprehend life's purpose? To comprehend Nature? Ah, but understanding Nature would suggest such a simple answer.