Over-explained lives

A friend recently gave me a book titled “Men are like waffles, Women are like Spaghetti.” Confused and intrigued by the odd title, I opened the book and began to read.

I learned that men are waffles because they categorize everything into boxes and can only live in one box at a time.

Women, however, are spaghetti – everything in their lives is entangled and connected.

Maybe, I thought, there might be some truth to that.

Then I started thinking back to all of the other books I’d seen or read which make attempts to explain human behavior:

  • “The Birth Order Effect: How to better understand yourself and others.”
  • “Unlocking the Secrets of your childhood memories.”
  • “The Secret Language of Birthdays: Personality Profiles for Each Day of the Year.”

The books I mention will likely give a little insight into why you are who you are. But mind you – just a little. Because you’ll read them, verifying the things you agree with and ignoring the things you don’t.

Birth order books tell me as a firstborn, I’m a determined rebel, stubborn and controlling. I read that I’m determined.

My “secret” childhood memories of unpopularity are supposed to make me insecure in relationships, yet strong enough persevere in pain. I read that I’m strong.

I have to say others probably read these books in the same manner.

We read what we want and we see ourselves as we want to be.

A professor at my alma mater passed away a couple years ago, and a friend shared this quote: “Sometimes a person can overexplain his or her existence. Perhaps we explain the little things about ourselves so we can avoid the bigger questions.”

Professor Henry Veldhuis was a poet – and a scientist, a combination that you won’t find explained in a personality type book.

I think we look to these books to help us explain ourselves – and what we really end up doing is over-explaining the little things.

I’m not exactly sure what “bigger questions” Veldhuis had in mind.

Maybe he wanted to know why we do the things we do. Or why we want the things we want. Or what makes us love or hate or laugh or cry. Or maybe what motivates us to live and to climb out of bed each morning. I don’t think birth order or gender or childhood memories are going to tell any of us who we are.

They may explain the little things – but in reality, we’re all so much deeper than that.