Sometimes it seems like we live in a world where everything that isn’t completely rational has been either brushed aside or ridiculed. If there’s no research proving it, forget about it. It’s kooky. If it doesn’t involve making or spending money, it’s not important.
I used to listen to the NPR news all the time. Now it often seems two-dimensional. Journalism, even good journalism, follows a formula. Here’s a problem. This side says blah blah blah. The other side says blah blah blah. The facts and figures compiled by so-and-so say this. Cut and dry. Kind of boring.
What about the mysteries? The unknown? Dreams and visions? Seeing ghosts or angels or alien spacecraft? Communicating with nature spirits?
Leaving space for the mysteries in your life is like finding pleasure. Different people find joy in different activities, although we collectively have plenty of ideas about which pleasures are Good and which are Bad. Video games, for example. Mostly seen as Bad. But you might play a game where you’re hanging out with your friends, or mastering a particular maneuver, and you come away from it with a big smile on your face, feeling inspired. You might play because you like games, but get so upset about losing or not having mastered that trick yet that you curse and fume, and the whole household gets into a funk just from hearing your rage. That feels pretty icky.
What about bicycling? Good, right? Fantastic exercise for your body, and much easier on the environment than a car. But what if you ride so often that you need a double hip replacement by the time you reach your mid-40s?
One more example: enjoying a piece of cake. Homemade pound cake with raspberry jelly and perhaps some whipped cream. You might come away feeling bloated, with a sugar headache. Or you could brew a cup of tea and savor every bite of cake, then feel refreshed from your nurturing break.
This is when you might be thinking: no way. Sugar is always bad. It’s a poison. No good will come of this. You know those times when you feel that absolute about something? Watch out for that. Really. You don’t know anything for sure. None of us do. Hanging onto absolutes might be as unhealthy as eating candy bars for breakfast.
What if we’re wrong about sugar? What if everything is made of energy? What if our beliefs about the food we eat are more important to the outcome than the food itself? What if our very reality is composed of beliefs, which are simply thoughts that we think repeatedly?
What if it’s not?
For years now, nutritional science has told us to be healthy by minimizing fats. Now it’s saying, no, it’s the carbs that are bad for you. Bread, the “staff of life” our agricultural civilization was built upon, is a huge no-no. Why? Changing agricultural and food-production practices? Evolution of our physical bodies in a more sedentary modern world? Our collective beliefs?
None of the above? All of the above, and more?
If you prefer the absolutes, and enjoy scientific rationalism for that very reason, check out quantum physics. It’ll blow your mind.
Even religion relies on these absolutes. What does it say about us that the very discipline that is presumably all about the sacred mysteries relies so heavily on old dogma? My son Dryst, a self-described atheist, feels that our world would be much better off without religion. We had a great conversation about it the other day. Spirituality is fine, although it’s not his thing; it at least usually doesn’t cause people to want to kill or oppress groups of other people.
He feels that religious groups that take the Bible literally are ridiculous. He said, “It’d be like some modern general reading the Art of War and being like ‘Okay, get out the horses!’ ‘But sir, we have tanks…’ ‘Nope, this says horses.'”
So I asked him, “You mean, you’re looking at a scientific civilian society like Star Trek?” “Yeah, pretty much.”
I’ve been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I can go with that. Even in their super-sciencey universe, they leave room for the mysteries. They make plenty of time for music,art, and stories. When they encounter something that doesn’t make sense, they use both their rational minds and their gut feelings to figure it out. They have a ship’s counselor, to empathically sense what other beings are going through internally. Captain Picard is such a successful leader because he doesn’t hold to the rules, but rather follows the flow of the situation.
And what do these guys eat? Whatever they want, because it’s all made in the replicator and will nourish their bodies. Uh huh.
Some people feel that the things we ridicule as new-age goofiness now, like telepathy, astral projection, and channeling, are simply the science of the future. What if consciousness is much more complex than we know? What if our physical world is a thin strand of an infinite web of interconnected probable realities? What if guardian angels really do watch over each of us? Or not. Who knows?
Leaving room for the mysteries in daily life isn’t foolish, or a waste of time. It’s healthy to realize that there’s so much we just don’t know. It doesn’t have to be scary. It can inspire you to begin new creations, take risks, or follow your heart’s deepest longings.
Use your imagination. Be inspired. Let your dreams, stories, and insights wash through you. Notice the synchronicities that pop up in your life. Play more. Seek out pleasures that lift you up, and forget what others say about it. May you be blessed with mystery.