Answers and certainty, that’s what I like, what I want. Perhaps that is why I don’t care for the word “mystery.” At best it seems like a cop out, a deflection, a way not to answer the question, as in “It’s a mystery!” At its worst, “mystery” seems like an admission of failure, the shorter equivalent of “I don’t know” which can be understood as “I couldn’t/can’t figure it out.” And, damn it, shouldn’t I, in this Google-age, know or at least be able to figure it out, whatever “it” is?
In her essay on “Mystery” Rachel Remen approaches mystery from a different perspective:
“Perhaps real wisdom lies in not seeking answers at all. Any answer we find will not be true for long. Any answer is a place where we can fall asleep as life moves past us to its next question. After all these years I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.”
Elsewhere she notes: “Mystery requires that we relinquish an endless search for answers and become willing to not understand.”
In all this it occurs to me that if I can come up with answers for all of the questions I have, then I should consider asking some different questions. Knowledge may be found through the Google search engine, but not wisdom.
But I do like that thought, “pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.”