Life’s Mystery

Dale - Boulder, Colorado
Entered on April 28, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I Believe in Life’s Mystery

The love of a child cuts across aloneness like no other force. When my daughter buries her face in my neck, her soft and strong arms thrown around my neck and whispers into my ear, “I love you a million times a million” I am nowhere but with her. My own sense of self recedes and it’s as if I become the love that is between us. I am deeply connected to all that is in that moment.

Walking on a high windswept ridge after hours of effort, feeling the pulse of exertion cleanse my cluttered mind, I gaze out at the expanse: the mystery and magnitude of geologic force stuns me. The light shimmers against the dust particles and the air itself sparkles. In this place I feel my connection to life; I am part, not apart, from all that has been and all that is becoming.

What is it that we hold in common, our humanity, that which connects us? Whatever it is we feel it only as deeply as we feel our aloneness. For me, that aloneness is a constant background hum. It’s with me driving in the car to work each day, as I lay beside my husband in bed at night, as I dead-head flowers in my effort at a garden, while in the midst of conversation I drift to a place inside myself. The moments that I am alone seem to far outweigh the moments that I am genuinely present and connected to that which goes on around me.

Still, it is the pull between that aloneness and the fleeting, fullness of connection that propels me, that sustains me, that accompanies me through this life with a sense of wonder, meaning and purpose. It is through connection that my essential aloneness is punctuated, gives me reason to not despair, to move through life, to age, to face the prospect of death with, if not strength, some modicum of openness. I believe that the power of connection contrasts the purity of our aloneness against the grand mystery of infinity.

What answers do I provide, what explanation do I offer when my daughter asks me about the universe having no end, her mind attempting to grasp and coming up short against the great unknowns? She brings me in touch with these mysteries, with the unknown and I realize that I am at peace with them. I live with there being no end to the universe as I live with the white light of child love. I live with the power of aloneness and the power of connection. I live in witness to the mystery, feeling our common humanity and joyful when I have the rare pleasure of watching the air sparkle.