I agree with this reply but (of course, as a writer) it got me to thinking about how often this comes up in a variety of situations. In reality, writers deal with it in our fiction all the time, and often quite creatively, but when it comes to real life we’re much less graceful about it. I suppose that makes sense. It’s easier to plan your protagonists response to a gut punching revelation than it is to handle your own response when you get home from work to find that: your AC konked out on a 90 degree day (again), your well is acting up, and they forgot to tell you that the new garage door being installed also needs a new motor, and you need to choose from their three models. Our protagonist will only have an anxiety attack if it serves the plot. We, however, don’t have the benefit of outlines and brainstorming sessions to deal when, as they say, “life happens.” We often say to hell with the plot, and react. Sometimes, better than others. I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t react well
I know, I often say “act, don’t react,” but nobody’s perfect. There are always going to be those situations that send you into reaction mode whether it’s wise or not, and these “questions that can’t be answered” are often a catalyst for that. We often discover a lot about ourselves and come out stronger, but I think that “our test becoming our testimony” is an unpleasant process that most of us would like to avoid. It’s painful to deal with these things, and frankly it’s embarrassing sometimes. Nobody likes to be down. We’re afraid that if we claim it, then we’re inviting more. While I agree that not everything needs to be shared, there are times when embarrassment might stop us from reaching out for help that could resolve things faster. I had to get over that the past couple of days. And perhaps that’s the point: I needed to quit trying to be the tough sci-fi writer and admit that sometimes, I need help.
It happens to us all, and our ability to deal with it is a strong indicator of our strength of character. Nobody has all of the answers. Heck, we probably have very few answers if we’re honest with ourselves. This is the number one reason why we have to learn to live in faith. And if you aren’t a religious person, then I think you have to find faith in something to give you stability. Otherwise, the unpredictable nature of reality will drive you to anxiety-ridden insanity quickly because life isn’t safe. Anything can happen at any time. And you can’t live in fear of that, or you’ll never know peace, and that’s not how we’re supposed to be.
The good news is that things are predictably ok most of the time. For that one day I came home to everything falling apart, there are thousands of others when I walked in and everything was alright. For every person who got snobby or rude with me, there are dozens more who were perfectly friendly. For every flat tire, auto problem, or bad traffic day, most days I get to and from where I’m going without incident (ok, maybe the traffic calculation might be a bit off, as nobody’s working from home anymore and it shows!). The gut-wretching calls or messages that knock me off my feet are an anomaly, because most of what I hear is normal, routine, day to day stuff (some of it might be weird or silly, but not devastating). Mundane reality is the normal state of the world. And as both the HVAC and garage door technician pointed out, sometimes strange things happen. It makes for much more entertaining fiction than reality! In fact, I do believe that all fiction has at least one element of “unanswered questions” that drives the plot forward. Back in the day, those questions were answered. In modern storytelling, we’re more honest: it’s resolved and worked with, but perhaps not answered. Because at least now, we can admit that we don’t know it all, and are starting to accept that.
We’re imperfect people living in an imperfect world, and that means there’s going to be a lot we can’t explain. That’s alright. The world has kept turning and humanity has thrived despite that, and so shall we continue on. I think it’s best if we’re at least honest about it and admit to ourselves and to each other that sometimes, we just don’t get it, and that’s ok. Perhaps these mysteries can be one force to drive us together in a society that seems intent on finding ways to drive us apart. We could use a unifying force, now more than ever.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.