you & me

Embrace The Mystery.

“To be lost is to be fully present.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

We’re afraid of the unknown.

It is fact of recorded history, of psychology, of spirituality. As a result, all manner of myths have been created — and institutionalized — to make us forget the world is uncertain. When this doesn’t work, we develop obsessive-compulsive disorders in order to perpetuate the illusion of control.

Our best minds, our brightest souls continue to tell us otherwise, still the vast majority of us cling to an imaginary belief that certainty is possible.

More profound than this, we humans continue en masse to operate under the illusion that certainty is desirable. To believe that flexibility, surprise, curiosity, spontaneity are not far superior qualities.

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” ~ Albert Einstein

Most of us live in a world that is not real. The government is not what we think it is, and neither are our friends or foes. Those we blame for our woes are almost entirely without fault, those we believe are aligned with our best interests are in truth aligned only with their own, and a shocking number of the things we would call important are really just meaningless distractions we’ve pasted to the walls of the imaginary dioramas in which we live.

This phenomenon of not having any true grasp of reality necessarily means that most of us are — in spite of all our beliefs and quite often because of them — the secret harbor of our most debilitating delusions. And these delusions are snakes that feed on their own tails.

“There are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid…There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.” ~ Buckminster Fuller

We say, over and over again in countless different ways that we want certainty, that we need it in order to get up and tie our shoes in the morning. That we must define all the things and places and people around us, so we understand exactly what we are dealing with. All the while, we become depressed when our lives become dull, routine, and predictable. We are torn between wanting to be surprised and not wanting any surprises.

The mind wants certainty. The soul wants mystery.

“To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” ~ Anne Rice

In order to make peace with the dualistic ideas of certainty and mystery, imagine for just a moment a life without uncertainty. What would be the point? No adventure, no new discoveries, no anticipation, no inspiration, no desire, no growth. This would be enough to kill even the most risk-averse of us out there.

What if there were no mysteries to investigate, no stones to turn over, no wonder to wander through.

Think of the excitement and possibility of a first kiss, the longing, the uncertainty, the hope, the thrill, the waiting that almost drives us mad. What if we knew exactly what would happen while we stood on the threshold of that sacred space. What if we knew how a painting would turn out the moment we picked up the brushes. What if we knew exactly how our characters would tell their stories, our children would live their lives, our gardens would yield, our loves would unfold.

“Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

The truth, of course, is that the mysterious holds sway over our hearts, our bodies, our souls, in ways that certainty can never even aspire towards.

It is the unspoken — even if minuscule — danger of the unknown; it is the possibilities of flowers, of color, of kisses, that makes life worth getting out of bed for, that moves us towards today and tomorrow and tomorrow. It is the search of that indescribable and almost invisible feeling of aliveness in all the little, daily unknowns that gives life purpose, meaning, depth, feeling.

So the next time you find yourself walking the razor’s edge between knowing and unknowing, don’t panic. What you’re feeling is simply the exhilaration of what might come next.

It’s called life. Drink it up. That’s what it’s there for.


Thomas Qualls

Thomas Qualls

Writer. Novelist. Essayist. Attorney. Artist.
Thomas Lloyd Qualls is a writer -- a condition that is apparently incurable. He manages his condition, in part, by regular contributions to Rebelle Society and to Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine. He's also a novelist, an essayist, a videographer, a painter, a bike rider, and through his law practice -- a sometimes salvager of troubled lives. 'Waking Up at Rembrandt’s', his debut novel, has received local and national critical acclaim. The second edition of the novel is available in print (think of vinyl, only for books) and on multiple e-version platforms. There’s also a book of poetry, 'Love jaywalks', available everywhere e-books are sold. Still on the horizon: a collection of essays, some new paintings, and a second novel, 'Painted oxen', due out soon. In the meantime, you can visit his website whenever you like for more of his stuff.
Thomas Qualls
Thomas Qualls
Thomas Qualls

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