I’m standing on the marble floor of the station, her tears falling into sparkling shatter below me. She has stopped herself from walking away to tell me this is all she has, all she knows. If she loses me, she might disappear. In too many ways to count I have described the scale of importance here. Bigger things rule our lives. Bigger things call me to the edge. I can save lives. I cannot resist the siren. Blood colored light pierces our world as the wall monitor cycles to another ad. She says, once more, that there are ten other people who can take my place. She reaches out for me. The train approaches. The other feet on the floor move in singular sound and direction. My will to touch her again withers in the subsequent rotation of advertising, the blood transmuted to some home with some family eating something, or drinking something. Maybe they’re smiling. Maybe they’re ribbed in embrace. For a very brief moment, I find her reflection in the jagged shaped of her tears on the floor but as I sit down and close my eyes, I admit to myself that I made that part up.
Welcome to another costly spin around the sun! 2018 has arrived. I thought I’d talk about mystery today since both 2016 and 2017 did a number on us. I doubt 2018 will be much different.
In my unfinished definition of struggle, mystery performs a lion’s share of the labor.
That may not compute right away but let me rearrange some things.
Our only physical experience of time is bound to the present, the now. The now is the only place where we touch time and time touches us. Yet without the ability to recall the past, the now means little. This recall develops between the ages of two and four and from that murky moment on, we ride the spearhead of time with a reasonable level of cognizance. Granted, we alone construct our reality whether it be the present, the past, or the future but dark, pregnant futures make assembly treacherous. We rarely do it well. Hindsight boosts our precision with the past—not by much but it’s enough to make our gambles on the future seem psychotic in comparison.
This mystery in the projectile of time holds individual struggle in fixed gaze, catatonic. Every passing second, we convince ourselves there will be a succeeding second and another and another and so on. Our only evidence for this conviction: the flimsy memories of a miniscule amount of seconds that came before the next. The whole order of operation grows shaky.
As always, my response follows the Camus rationale. What else is there to do but continue? Kill yourself or point your nose into the wind. With full acceptance of the relativity of emotions and experience, reacting to my fear of the vacancy at the razor’s edge of time seems a waste. A waste of what? The possibility of the next second. Possibility creates value in the now. The now, not the spearhead, is the exhilarating vehicle into the possibilities, even if those possibilities are slim.
It’s sometimes difficult to quantify the constraint mysteries place on us. It pervades our existence. At times the fear these mysteries instill in us becomes debilitating. Many of us use religion as bulwark against the mysteries of death, for instance. Unfortunately most religions fail to account for the ubiquitous nature of mystery. One could even make an Occam’s Razor case for mystery itself more deserving the title of deity than some ambiguous personality clothed in a thundercloud. One can argue any classic deity into a corner where they too face the awesome void of mystery. Once deities acquire personalities and weigh decisions, their realities appear not unlike our own, subject to the unknown, equally under threat.
No religion I’ve ever seen makes a deep enough dive to explain itself without invoking the limited capacities of our minds or our knowledge—which is acceptable. In fact, it’s a baby step in correct direction. There is a simple reason for this veiled confession. The mystery still stands. Neither personal saviors nor reincarnation have delivered any corporeal answers. Even cyclical cosmologies, the oldest and sometimes most coherent cosmologies, cannot answer with evidence why the cycle exists only that we should trust that this is all there is for eternity.
There is no end to mystery. It will always be there. There is no final puzzle piece. There is always another level of reality. This is one of the penultimate facts about the Universe and it does wonders when we accept it as such. Stop pining for an answer. Start asking different questions.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.