On a recent evening walk with B, she said, "I wish I lived in a book. I mean, I wish my life was like in books. If you wrote a book about my life, it would be boring. There's no magic in my life." Does she know how wise she is? I think not. What I wanted to say, but didn't get the chance to as the conversation veered in another direction, was that it's a blessing that she has books in her life to give her the magic and mystery her soul longs for. A few minutes of imagining life without books might be enough to inspire her to write down some of the stories swirling in her mind.
Regardless of whether she realizes in her nine year old heart what a blessing books are, she is right to long for a bit more mystery and magic. A and I have been studying Renaissance history and are learning right now about Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. It's amazing to think about how this one invention revolutionized our world. People could not only obtain knowledge by reading it, but could share knowledge, so that people didn't have to keep discovering the same things over and over. This made me think about the fact that even my nine and ten year old daughters know more about the world we live in than the most educated people of five hundred years ago.
While I don't desire a return to the days before science was common knowledge, I do think we've lost something as a society in the lack of mystery in our every day lives. We don't create fables to explain the course of the sun or the reason for the seasons. We aren't amazed when a virus runs its course in seven to ten days instead of claiming someone's life. Even my six year old has a rudimentary understanding of these things. And I don't regret scientific advances. They've improved our lives in countless ways. But they've also given us the illusion of control in our lives because we confuse knowledge with control. There are many things that we understand, but can't control (the weather springs to mind).
Mystery does exist in our lives if we'll let it. Who can explain why the heart soars to see beauty in art or nature? Why does one person fall in love with another? Why can one person make a meal that delights with every bite? another a song that articulates one of life's truths? Perhaps you get my point. Maybe there are other things that resonate with you, but the broader point is this: are you looking for and embracing the mystery in life? Are you opening yourself to things that delight, surprise and perhaps scare you?
My family clearly finds a good deal of mystery in literature. We delight in worlds others have imagined. We live between the pages and come away looking at this world with new eyes. So how can we add a little mystery to the lives of those around us? How can we bring those invented worlds into our own and make the world a more beautiful place? That is the real mystery and one worth contemplating.
|Photos of - and by - a girl who likes some mystery in life: B, age 9|