Mystery's Blindside

As humans, we are attracted by mystery, yet at the same time we are terrified of what it means. To both our gains and losses, we hold a paradoxical relationship with it. We see mystery as the most wonderful quality in the people we admire and love. We also reach for it as a standard explanation for the skills, capacities and qualities these people have nurtured over the years—mystery dresses them with magic, giving us the perception that it is something they are born with.

We love mystery, yet are also shunned by its elusiveness; not because it is menacing, but because the insecurities and disastrous what-ifs triggers are too much to face. We are consumed by fantasies of failing, we are consumed by the fear of exploring the possibilities mystery has to offer us. Probing deeper into it, mystery is born from lack of information—there is no background or history explaining the features and complexities of the skills portrayed by the people we admire—be it writing, singing, painting, listening, solving problems, selling, and others. We attribute that they are born gifted and talented automatically—and it is not our fault. We are constantly fed by stories of passion and success through social media and television, that it seems to be the only way the world works. These idols magically experience epiphanies and discover what they excel at, do it their whole lives and live from it without any hardships.  We are given nothing else, because our attraction to mystery is the magic that sells it.

I propose that we stop for a moment and reflect on the pressure that this belief slips into our daily lives. It is a dangerous spotlight on talent, specifically on being a natural in our pursuits. We believe that we must be proficient in our pursuits from the very start of our endeavors—however, reality shatters this aspect of mystery and breaks us apart. Rarely (if ever) we are proficient in new endeavors. The pressure to excel, gives birth to a paralyzing frustration, which stops us from pursuing our interests and passions.

We become stagnant because the emphasis that our culture places on talent and excellence from the start is a dazzling embellishment that overshadows what lies behind proficiency in any given area. Without our knowledge, we automatically shame ourselves with self-affirmations like, “I’m just no good at this, this is too difficult, I wasn’t born with talent.”  We stray from our callings believing that we cannot rise up and show up to the challenges that are inherently tied to them.

What I propose is that we periodically stop and reflect on the possibilities of what we could be, what we could do, and what we could accomplish, if we nurture these interests and move them away from the pressure and embellishment of mystery. Are we brave enough to rise up to the challenges that come with the pursuit of our interests and passions? Are we brave enough to deepen those possibilities?

Jose is a recognized Puerto Rican poet who has published three poetry collections that explore themes of identity, shame and collective suffering.  He is currently enrolled in a Clinical Psychology doctoral program at the Carlos Albizu University Mayaguez University Center.  He also works as a beauty advisor for Sally Beauty Holdings.  Aditionally, in his spare time he facilitates creative writing workshops for the community.

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