The Mystery You Cannot Solve

Okay — fess up.

What’s the enigma that keeps you wondering, the one riddle for which it seems there is absolutely no answer?

Is it the perennial question of where socks go to disappear? Mundane, but maddening. The headache over why, all of a sudden, your dishwasher doesn’t clean your dishes?  Vicki Doudera here, and I’ll admit that I’ve got that happening right now. Or is it something more personal, such as why your friend found a brain tumor on Easter and is now undergoing treatments to beat her “under a year” life expectancy?

Life is full of these mysteries – some of them annoying and small; others unfathomable and deep. How could my father have abandoned me? Where is the child I gave up for adoption? Let’s face it – for many of these questions, there will never be an answer. They are unsolvable. No resolution will come — at least in this life.

Is this why we crave a well-crafted mystery on paper, one that we can hold in our hands and either solve ourselves or “watch” get solved? Many people think so, and I’m in the camp that agrees with them. Our helter-skelter lives have so many loose ends, and yet reading a mystery makes us feel those ends can be joined and explained. Out of chaos can come order.

We long to find answers, but let’s face it – sometimes,  in real life, it’s impossible.  The dog disappears and is never heard from again. The mother goes to her grave with a family secret no one could pry from her lips.

Yet we can pick up a book and feel a sense of order, control, and satisfaction that eludes us in our day-to-day existence..

What is the mystery that you cannot solve? Does it inform your writing? Do you think reading mysteries can help us deal with our feelings of helplessness?

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3 Responses to The Mystery You Cannot Solve

  1. Deanna says:

    Wow! That starts the old brain spinning early this morning. I will be pondering that all day. Dee

  2. John Clark says:

    When I was a kid, every time we went by a house on Rt. 131 in Warren, Mom would mention that we almost bought the place. Instead, I grew up on Sennebec Hill Farm, a location that not only influenced my growth, but plays a big part in my writing. When we decided to move from Chelsea (Maine), we were looking at buying a place that would split the commuting more equitably. I was driving 6 miles each way, while Beth was driving 90. We looked at a horrible place in St. Albans, then at our lovely Victorian here in Hartland. In less than 5 minutes we both knew we wanted this house. Had I grown up in the Warren house, would I have gone to college in Arizona? Would I have dated the girls I did in high school? Would summer jobs have been different? So many things from my formative years are associated with Sennebec Hill Farm. but there are times I really wonder what different and interesting things would have happened had we bought the Warren house. As for choosing the Hartland place, that certainly led to a very satisfying new job as the town librarian and thus opened some completely different writing opportunities, so I do believe that location has a big impact on who we are and how we view the world. Great thought provoking piece today.

  3. Paul, You make a good point as to why we like reading mysteries. I agree wholeheartedly and I think it explains even more why we enjoy writing mysteries.

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