Why would you ask “Why am I here?” ?

I was having dinner at a Polish restaurant with two groups of people from the festival – a director, her daughter, and her nanny, and three actor/artists. I was talking to the daughter, a six-year-old. I love talking to kids. You can tell them exactly what you’re thinking.

“Babe,” I said, “I feel like I want to call my mom, but it’s too early in California.” She was also monitoring the time difference between Poland and LA, since they were making phone calls to her dad pretty frequently.

“Why do you want to call your mom?” she said.

“So I can be like, “Mom, why am I here?” I said. I didn’t mean to tell her the truth – I just didn’t think of a lie in time.

“Why would you ask “Why am I here?” ? ” she said.*

At this point, one of the actor/artists overheard the conversation, turned back to us, and said “Did you just say
“Why would you ask “Why am I here?” ? ” That’s such a profound existential question!” I used the laughter after this as a way to avoid answering her.

The truth was that I did not know why I was on this trip. I am one of the younger and less experienced directors on this trip, and I have sometimes let that fact make me feel inadequate – as if I don’t deserve this experience, as if someone else could have contributed more in my place. Talking to the other participants, I have learned that we all feel something like this, a bit. Everyone has moments of insecurity. But knowing that other people share these feelings does not prevent me from feeling them.

However, today, I think I have figured it out.

I am here precisely because I am young and less experienced. I am still untethered enough that, if my life needs to be changed by this experience, it can be. This might not be true if I were older and had done everything I want to do already. This seems obvious. I had formulated it before in a kind of “I’m here to learn” thing. But that wasn’t really enough.

I am here because I am still a questionmark.

Realizing this makes me feel very powerful, somehow – as if having nothing means we have everything

*For extra points, tell me if I have punctuated this properly.