There is magic in first experiences; in listening to a beautiful song for the first time, in seeing a new place you’d never been before, in passing first glances with someone enchanting. It’s not the newness that makes a moment magical though; it’s the unknown, the mystery.
Storytellers are always searching for new ways to tell a story, or to simply tell new stories. But instead we should be telling stories in order to explore the unknown, because there is still so much more that man does not know that needs exploration.
You see, when we experience what we are unfamiliar with, our imagination will blissfully fill in the gaps; the cloud, the fog. And honestly, this is how I, an idealist, prefer things. I want to be left in the dark, I want to think things are more magical than they probably are. (Why I choose to be this optimistic shall remain a mystery to you.)
To tell you the truth, truth can be a grim thing. A person you once looked up to can be a real fool, food that you’ve been craving can end up tasting bloody awful, a song can be heard enough times that you end up figuring out the real implications of its lyrics. Too much truth will net you tragedy. And once you know a thing about a person, it proves pretty difficult to erase. Likewise, over-indulgence/sensualism can become an enemy of the imagination. Hear a song too many times and it can lose its wonder, read a phrase or a proverb enough times and it can lose its meaning, eat lobster so many times that you end up sick of it, associate yourself with a friend for so long a time they can lose importance as an individual. Sensualism is the death of the imagination.
This is why I choose to refrain from travelling to a single place too many times, to reread the same books I’ve fallen in love with, or to over-listen to music that envelops my soul. I seek to keep the wonder intact. As much as we want to experience wonder, sometimes it’s best left to our imaginations to recall and remember the wonder.
Part of my wanting to write about this came from one of my nightly solitary excursions. I drove past an intersecting street in the middle of the night and briefly caught of passing glimpse of what looked like a never-ending park with lights, trees, and ponds bursting from the earth like a garden being kept by fireflies. The lights emerged from below the overcast branches of the trees, lighting them from underneath, making it impossible to determine the height of the tree tops. The ponds reflect an equally appealing mirror world of the romantic scene. The moon smiles above it all.
A week later I pass by the street again in broad daylight; I saw simply a suburban upper-class housing area with an electronic gate blocking a small park in the middle of the capitalist fortress. No longer did I see the infinite, no longer did I see the magic or wonder my imagination assumed of the place. (Note this is one of but millions of examples of my experiences in my everyday life.) So I ask myself: does my curiosity of a place behoove me to know how magical it it? or do I want to be left in the dark? do I want my mind to remember things as wondrous and magical? and at what point does this restraint prevent the pursuit of beauty and mystery?
The Prestige pushes the same perspective, in regards to the wonder of illusions/magic tricks: “Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.”
This is why I find darkness so attractive. And yet I rely on God to keep my innocence and naivety intact, in a way to shield me from the darkness, to allow me to merely be a tourist. This is why I prefer nighttime excursions to day ones. (“Dark, my sirs, has its fascinations: mystery, strangeness, romance…” - Haroun and the Sea of Stories.) This is why I choose not to watch/hear certain things that I know will not benefit my imagination whatsoever. This is why I’m so often introverted. This is why I’d rather speak more complexly/densely than normal, why I hold intentional words and artworks in such high regard. This is why I strive to hold meaning to the grandest of ideas down to the most minute detail. Intentionality.
Perhaps I look at the world in ways that are too grand for others to comprehend or enjoy, or even relate to. But I am who I am, and I will use my gifts to further the Kingdom at hand. Sometimes I will be encouraged tremendously, whereas other times I will feel more alone (and inhuman) than I can bear. I am imperfect and have much to work on.
But Beauty is infinite, because He is infinite. And He has been the only One I can embrace knowing further and still be left in awe and wonder. So one of my life goals shall be to search for beautiful things that I can continue to understand more fully and still be moved to tears. One of these days, I will meet her. And until the day I die I will continue to be in awe of her mystery and beauty. But that day’s arrival is unknown. My day is unknown. Tomorrow is unknown. Today is unknown. Go and find it.
I embrace Your cosmic mystery.
Are you watching closely?