“The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we CAN imagine…”

 ~ J.B.S. Haldane

What’s your relationship with mystery? How do you approach the great unanswerable questions of the universe? Do you ever get confused between empirical evidence and unsubstantiated beliefs?

Wouldn’t it be great to be absolutely certain about everything? To go through life with absolutely no questions or doubts? But then again, one might argue that would take the fun out of it.

Sure, science has lots of answers, and seems to be figuring more things out every day, but c’mon, why is it that only one sock goes missing when you do your laundry? Why does the shortest line at the supermarket usually have someone doing a complicated and time-consuming return? Does the postman really always ring twice?

Cultivating a healthy sense of wonder doesn’t preclude acknowledgement of facts. But if there’s one thing we humans might want to agree upon is that there is always going to be more to learn. The path from information to knowledge to wisdom is somewhat of a dance.

Apparently, last night on the 60 Minutes News Hour, there was a piece about UFOs. This is one of those cosmic questions that has haunted us humans since time immemorial. I didn’t watch the segment, but it sounds like the gist of it is that there is more evidence pointing to the idea that we are, in fact, not alone.

On one hand, it makes perfect sense. Anyone who ever pondered the night sky and all those zillions of stars out there has entertained the idea that somewhere, somehow, there may be some other intelligent life in the universe.

On the other hand, if indeed we do have company in the cosmos, who’s to say that they operate on any of the same systems or even laws of physics that we do? If they’ve figured out how to drop in on us and visit our neighborhood, it stands to reason that they’re beyond us in capabilities in ways we can’t begin to fathom.

My old pal Terence McKenna was certainly one to dance on the edge of mystery. The quote above from J.B.S. Haldane was one Terence used quite often. When he says that the universe “is stranger than we CAN imagine” he’s making the point that it’s really hubristic of us to assume that if we can’t understand something then it can’t exist.

Ok, so maybe we’re not alone. Perhaps, just perhaps, out there near one of those little tiny points of light that’s actually a huge star somewhere there’s some other form of intelligent being that’s figured out how to zip around the universe in some way that we can’t even imagine.

When we do the math and calculate the distances and add up the number of years traveling at the speed of light it would take to reach even the nearest star using our own systems of science, we run into the limitations of our own physicality and the edge of our scientific knowledge. It’s like a person from the era of horse and buggy trying to figure out how a jet plane works.

The term ‘extra’ can signify ‘other or more than or outside of’ while the term ‘inter’ can mean ‘in-between’. So if we’re busy looking for ‘extra-terrestrials’, meaning beings that exist outside of Earth, the whole endeavor is rooted in our own perception of physics. However, when you apply the term ‘inter-dimensional’ to the the topic, it opens up a whole other inexplicable can of worms.

Think about it for more than a moment or two and your brain will begin to resemble a pretzel. Beings that are able to jump between time and space and bring their gear and lunch along with them? Well, boy howdy, ya got me… This falls squarely into the category of ‘stranger than my little brain CAN imagine’. But, what if…?!?

Hence, the mystery. Back to square one. What are we supposed to do when confronted by something as baffling and out of our control as that? Well, fellow human, it’s called the here and now. We’ve got three dimensions (plus time if you want to get picky), a green and colorful planet, and each other to deal with.

In that case, what works? Well, being kind to yourself and each other for a start. Practicing things like forgiveness, gratitude, and mutual respect. Taking care of the environment. Personal responsibility and accountability. Common-sense real-world caring and compassion. The kind of stuff we’re supposed to learn in kindergarten.

Because at the end of the day, that’s all we’ve got. The here and now that we all live and breath in at this moment. Eckhart Tolle talks about The Power of Now. Don Miguel Ruiz gave us The Four Agreements. Gabrielle Roth offered Maps to Ecstasy. Great guides for navigating our human experience abound.

When it comes to relating to The Mystery, one might say that dancing with it is the best approach. When you’re dancing, you’re fluid, you’re nimble, and you’re in the flow. Your stance can change as new information comes in. And if its secrets are yet to be revealed, no biggie! Just save that dance for another day…

All the best in wisdom and wonder, much love till next week!

M+

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

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