The Man behind the Curtain

Sierra - Maize, Kansas
Entered on March 3, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that a magician should never reveal his tricks.

After all, what is a magic show without the magic? Merely a middle-aged man in a ridiculous costume praying that the audience buys his “slight-of-hand.”

I can remember a time when my mom performed for me the greatest card trick I had ever seen. After begging her day in and day out for several days to tell me her secret, she finally relented and taught me how it was done. After repeating the trick a few times myself, I quickly lost interest and moved on to other pursuits.

At some level, we all know that once the secret is revealed, the trick looses every trace of its novelty and becomes as exciting and mystifying as drinking a glass of water and announcing that it has “disappeared.” So why persist in solving the mystery if it’s only going to ruin forever a perfectly entertaining illusion?

Uncertainty is the spice of life. It causes a person to look up at the stars and feel an untamed wonder. It is one of the most important aspects that makes movies worth watching and books worth reading and life worth living. It is the basis of every faith ever practiced. It is what allows us to hope.

Symbolically, light is supposed to represent goodness and beauty, while darkness is supposed to represent evil and fear. In my mind, however, a black hole will be forever more beautiful than a well-lit room, no matter the décor. It holds within its dark, infinite depths limitless possibilities— a place where our wildest imaginings could well turn out to be reality.

Every person, no matter age, race, or religion has pondered the “big questions,” seeking to find answers to the issues of “How big is the universe?”, “How were we created?”, “What is my purpose?” and the all-encompassing, “What is the meaning of life?” I, however, pose another question, “Isn’t it better not knowing?” We, as humanity (a.k.a. the most intelligent beings on earth), seem to see these questions as problems to be solved, but their true nature is to add wonder and awe to the ordinary lives of men.

This is not to say that I am against the scientists and philosophers who attempt to solve life’s questions. On the contrary, I can fully understand the exuberance and joy of the quest to conquer the unknown. As an avid Nancy Drew fan, I can say from experience (and reader intuition) that Nancy doesn’t devote her life to solving mysteries because she’s that interested in who killed Betsy-Jo or what happened to the missing fiddle. She solves mysteries because she enjoys the thrill of uncertainty she feels when embarking on a case.

I do, however, fear that a scientist or philosopher will actually solve life’s mysteries. For where would that leave the human race? Sadly in want of magic.

Thus, at the risk of sounding cliché, I’d like to suggest that the journey, the twists and turns, the mountains and the pitfalls, the utter ambiguity of it matters infinitely more than the destination. I’d also like to add this bit of advice: to revel in the uncertainty of the universe. Instead of asking, “How’d he do that?” sit back, relax, and enjoy the magic.