The Gatekeepers of Mystery
Where did that child go?
That wonder-filled curious little being. Tousled hair with muddy paws crawling between the shrubbery. Those bright eyes absorbing the magnificent universe. That child followed a golden path, slabs laid down by wonder. Each footstep radiating magic. Mystery around every corner.
That child was you. It was every friend, every co-worker, every passerby.
Hard to imagine, right?
These days, each footstep is jaded. The magic has disappeared. Routine and responsibility smear the golden path with drudgery. Life holds few surprises and these are mostly unwelcome. The Great Mystery remains but we ain’t got time for that.
Wonder is the language of Mystery. The unknown, the abyss, the numinous, sacredness (whatever you want to call it) forever calls to us. Occasionally something will pique your curiosity and a wave of motivation moves you to investigate. That something is an invitation from Mystery to explore its depths. A question settles in your mind. I wonder… where do we come from? where do we go when we die? why do squirrels live in trees? what is consciousness? what does space feel like? what does tofu taste like? Within those hazy depths you’ll find answers and inspiration.
Who holds the keys to wonder?
As children, the gatekeepers of Mystery are adults. Some adults indulge our dreams and imagination. Nothing is too out-there. They encourage our drawings and stories. These wonder-filled adults even inspire mystery through games and fairy tales. The relationship is bi-directional of course. The Child embodies mystery, reminding the adult of Mystery’s power.
There are other adults that see Mystery as a pointless, unproductive home of weirdos and misfits. Lady Mystery doesn’t put food on the table. Nor impress the neighbours. These adults close Mystery’s gates to younger generations by passing forward their fear of her. A flippant untimely comment damages The Child’s wonderful playfulness. Despite these destructive interactions The Child does not lose their will to Mystery so easily. It takes time but slowly and surely it fades.
The gatekeepers of Mystery for adults are different. No longer do we find wonder in a snail. We wonder about the big questions. If we still hear Mystery’s calling as adults, we seek their answers. We seek answers from scientists, writers and religious leaders. Figures of authority poised to equally unveil and shield us from Mystery.
As middlemen do, some of these gatekeepers capitalise on information disparity filling the blanks of Mystery in their mould. We resign Mystery to their doubt-less answers but find refuge in our new sense of understanding and control provided by those answers.
Expansive gatekeepers support us in the Mystery. Restraining gatekeepers give us their answers.
A scientist can peel back the curtain on the laws of the universe. Or bore you with their genius.
A writer can open you to infinite perspectives. Or prescribe their own (maybe I’m doing that).
A religious leader can lead you through the divine. Or sever your connection to it.
When we don’t regularly encounter Mystery, we forget the delight she brings and our enthusiasm for her contact wanes. When we blindly accept the answers from restraining gatekeepers our skills of observing, curiosity and critical thinking wilt. Without those, we lose our agency.
By developing our own relationship with Mystery we keep those skills sharp and thus maximise agency.
Spending time with Mystery isn’t always easy. We’ll often discover more questions than answers. But her gift to us is meaning. Within Mystery’s depths we find everything from our deception to our future selves to our muses.
There is little mystery in modern society. We find answers on Google within moments. Our jobs are specialised: making us experts in our niche where we’re told to stay in our lane. We’ll hire other experts to take away our problems. Plus time is scarce, so we choose quick answers over observation and deep critical thought.
This is all fine but does it really give us the meaningful life that we all desire?
Making Mystery a priority starts with listening to her call. Watch for that golden path of wonder. You may just find The Child yet.
If you’d like to live in awe and wonder and build your own relationship with Mystery, join our Intentional Awe course👇
The Intentional Awe Course is a 4-week course designed to cultivate the skills to live a life full of awe and wonder. The course is delivered by Fraser Deans, the founder of Awe app.
Join the next ‘enchanted cohort’ starting 1st March 2022. Limited to 5 places.
🙏 Thanks to Matthew Shorney for his critique.