“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” ~Neil Armstrong
The best thing about being a kid is that the world is an undiscovered frontier. We knew very little about our surroundings and life in general. So everyday was filled with an adventure that left us with more questions than answers. Unfortunately, as we get older we tend to accumulate massive amounts of information. So much in fact, the world shrinks and life becomes less of a mystery and more of an inevitable conclusion. Add the ease of access to information the internet provides and it’s no wonder that we’re able to predict the outcomes of the weather, elections, and movie plots with relative ease. As a result of this, I think many of us stop striving to seek out mystery in our lives. Which, contrary to the post of this blog, leads us to the obvious door number 22 on this grand adventure, maintaining a sense of mystery in one’s life.
You might be asking yourself, what’s so great about mystery? Well first of all, the unknown keeps things interesting. We see this most notably in the entertainment found in books and movies. Take Game of Thrones for example, if someone were to reveal how everything was going to play out, I doubt it would have the critical success its experiencing. Sure sometimes starting at the ending and working back to the beginning (or Tarantinoing it as some might say) can make for a pleasurable experience. However, I would argue that most of the time it is the mystery of what’s coming next that draws us in. And if we can’t be drawn into our lives, what’s the point?
What’s that you say? My life is plenty interesting and I avoid the enigmatic at all costs? Well, even if you don’t think there’s entertainment value to maintaining a level of mystique in your life, there’s a still a compelling reason for doing so. That my friends, relates to the idea of pushing one’s boundaries. As regular readers may know I had a short-lived series on this blog titled “The Risk Experiment.” I had decided the best way I could improve on my life was to start pushing outside of what was comfortable. What I learned, among other things, was the thing preventing real growth in our lives is a fear of the unknown. By striving to look for the deeper mysteries we push ourselves to accept that just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it’s not worth having in our life. In fact, our lives may become more enriched from allowing us to capture a bit of the innocence of our younger selves.
So now I’ve talked at length about why this door is so important, I should probably discuss some of its risks. When taken to the other extreme, an over-indulged sense of mystery can be paralyzing. We get so enamored by the nervous excitement that comes with anticipating something, once we experience the exciting event, there is a risk it will let us down. Which can lead to seeking out an endless series of circumstances heightened by the lack of spoilers until we forget to live in the moment and appreciate great things that, while predictable, add a great deal to our existence. It’s why so many relationships start out so well and then end so terribly. We forget it’s about the whole experience, and just focus on the butterflies the undetermined conclusion gives us.
As with any door, moderation is they key to a healthy sense of mystery. However, by incorporating it into our lives as we continue to grow older and less enchanted with the world around us we will be able to continue appreciating all we have. And of course, it will make movies, books, and television more exciting (Even if the new Star Wars films end up more like the prequels, the build up will remain epic). Most importantly, however, is the innovation that comes with capturing the essence of mystery. Every great scientific and cultural development in our history came from individuals who sought out the unknown and invented ways to solve the unsolvable. So I guess what I’m really saying is, can someone please figure out lightsaber technology already?