The Mojo of Mystery

I’ve always been the one helping my friends “play the field.”

What I mean is that I tend to be the go-to-girl when someone doesn’t know what to do in a dating situation or, more accurately, how to respond to the last text message. It’s not because I know how to spit mad game. Quite the opposite, as I’m probably the last person you would describe as “flirty.” Deep down, I actually love talking things to death. I enjoy intensely emotional conversations where I get the chance to learn about another person on a deeply intimate level. I like to lay everything out on the table, the good and the bad. But despite my best wishes, that shit sure ain’t sexy.

The allure of mystery is no ancient myth.

Rather, there is a treasure of truth relevant to us today. I usually try to refrain from generalizing an entire gender, but I believe the saying goes something along the lines of “men like a woman of mystery.” And this makes sense if you think about it, no matter who or what it is you’re talking about. If something (or someone) is mysterious, it is naturally attractive. Mystery gives you just the right amount of information to describe what it is and how it feels, and it leaves out just enough so that you need to know more.

It’s the lack of information, the missing pieces perhaps, that makes us want to engage and explore the mystery further.

The unknown is both scary and enticing, fear-inducing and fascinating. Mystery wets your appetite in just the right way, so that you know exactly where to return when you are ready for an adventure. When our circumstances are boring and predictable, who doesn’t like an adventure? And when we are conditioned to solve all of our problems in the most linear, rational way, who doesn’t crave a bit of spontaneity?

I used to think that everything could be solved if we stated the problem out loud, wrote it down, did a little dance, sung our hearts out, and transformed the situation through pure exhaustion. And I still think this approach is quite effective for some things, but recently someone reminded me of the potency in the unspoken.

There is power in that which is withheld.

A beautiful reminder of this can be found in the Jewish tradition, where the word for God is held so sacredly that it shall not be spoken out loud, for any reason. Religious practitioners instead use a replacement word that implies the same meaning. Similarly, Japa meditation is a technique where a personal mantra is repeated hundreds of times in order to concentrate on a specific intention. It is thought that the mantra becomes exponentially more powerful when it is mentally repeated, versus when it is softly spoken or chanted. So let’s apply these ideas to the most popular form of modern communication.

Would you rather receive a text message that bombards you with a bunch of flat out statements and questions? Or would you rather receive a message that leaves a little bit to the imagination and allows for an unexpected response?

Perhaps there is a thrill in mystery, a captivating essence in the unsolved.

Most simply, mystery requires a continuation of engagement. If you ask someone a direct question, they have to answer with a direct statement. And then you have to ask another question to continue the conversation. But if you make a slightly ambiguous statement, you allow for a broader context in which the response can fall, increasing the possibilities of the answer.

Just as we can limit the dimensions of our conversations with others by speaking too directly, perhaps we can place limitations on our own potential by speaking too much.

There is a psychology study that suggests people are less likely to accomplish a personal goal if they share it with a friend or acquaintance before it is actually completed. Apparently, our brain perceives the social recognition of the future goal as an equal reward to having accomplished the real thing, thereby decreasing our mental motivation to work towards achieving it. Likewise, the same can be said for the causal relationship between expectations and higher levels of disappointment.

More than often, people fall back into the habit of speaking too much and too directly because they want to reassure themselves of something. Heck, no one likes feeling insecure about. But trust is not rational, and it requires the opposite of linear thinking.

Trust demands a radical acceptance of our present and future experience. It requires us to dive, eyes-closed and nose-plugged, into something that is completely unknown. But as much as we try to tell ourselves that we want to know the outcome and secure our future, deep down, we secretly crave mystery. We yearn to experience the unexpected, the uncharted, the inexplicable.

Mystery is mystifying, and we are all chasing after it.

As a kid, in order to avoid things from happening that I didn’t want to happen, I would often vividly imagine them happening exactly as I hoped they wouldn’t. And to this day, I still think it works. Somehow, by narrowing down the possible outcomes, it decreases the likelihood of the undesirable situation playing out in real life. Maybe it’s because I’ve already sortof dealt with it, and my desire for mystery outweighs my ability to duplicate that which I have already experienced through my scrupulous imagination. If you reverse the function of this paradigm, we can all magnify our potential circumstances by concentrating our energy in the present moment.

“Being present” might sound simple, but it’s not necessarily something that our society has taught us how to do. Rather, our education, religious, and governing institutions focus heavily on future preparation based on past historical events, diffusing our energetic ability to remain grounded in this present moment.

There is nothing more mysterious than the exact moment unfolding right before your eyes.

There is no comprehensible explanation for the meaning of this universe. There is no way to determine where this moment will take you. And there are so many missing pieces that, if you look closely enough, you will effortlessly find the most magical and enchanting qualities. So when we revel in the mysteries that surround us, when we slow down and consecrate our surroundings with fewer words and limitations, we can actually embody the power of this mystery. And then, there is no telling what we can do with that power.

Maybe we’ll use the Mojo of Mystery to find us a hot date. Maybe we’ll use it to end world hunger or eradicate sexual violence.

Who knows, right?

by Maria Borghoff