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  • © Anne Lindhard

The Enigma

I believe that deep down in every enigma is a longing to be solved, to be figured out, to be unraveled.

It is nesting there, like a quiet urge, ever so silently whispering to itself and to anyone caring, or daring, to listen: Come. Undo me.

It is not the violent latent energy of a shaken coke can or a bottle of bubbles five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve. It is more like a held breath, quivering on the verge of release, indefinitely.

You might even say that every enigma is a story waiting to be told. And it is my calling to tell it.

Who am I? Maybe that is a mystery in itself, even to me. If I simply told you, I would immediately violate the first principle of mystery. And of story. So let me show you instead.

Picture a busy street in the middle of rush hour. People are crowding the sidewalks, cars are jamming the asphalt, bikes and motorcycles are navigating the dangerous labyrinths between them. You are walking, with purpose, towards your next defined destination, usually a little late, so you have to pick up your speed and walk a little faster than you find comfortable and getting slightly annoyed by the slower people walking in front of or towards you. Are you with me? Great. Then suddenly your eyes catch those of a person walking towards you. And in a brief instance the world around you evaporates into a million fragments in a shallow pool of reality. Fluid and insubstantial. Nothing is solid anymore. Nothing is certain.

That’s me! Do you know me now? Do you remember meeting me like this? I bet you do. I bet you remember thinking “What if…” Not in that conscious way you think about what to buy for dinner or why your colleague missed your morning meeting, but in that much subtler way where the words immediately dissolve into a deep sense of loss, of missed opportunity, of lost potential ... It is the moment when you contemplate, for a split second, that you are not only late for your next appointment. You are just utterly, irreversibly late. For everything. For your life.

I know that by now you are probably more confused than ever and maybe even a little annoyed. You want me to get out of your way. You want to be done with me. To have me figured out and discarded. To release that breath into a deep sigh of relief. So you can brush off your hands and move on.

I’m sorry. I can’t let you do that. Not just yet. Not until you have done the work and figured me out. I simply cannot let you go. And you know it, right?

So let me continue my story. You are walking on that busy street. Your eyes catch those of a stranger, and in that brief look you see an eternity. Endless possibility.

I wonder if this is the reason why so many do not dare to look into the eyes of a stranger. We are not really shying away from the discomfort and embarrassment, we are not afraid of dismissal, quite the contrary. We are afraid of getting caught. Of discovering a story that we need to be part of. So instead we choose to look away. Right? Well, now I’m confident that you know me.

Let me stop to ask – are you any wiser now? Not that I blame you if you are not. Your mind is still searching for meaning. Trying to gather the scattered pieces of evidence, I have left for you like fairytale breadcrumbs. Your mind is connecting the dots, filling the blanks, closing the chain, gathering the threads. Analyzing the previous lines to makes sense of the next. Judging me. Blaming yourself. Planning your next move. Regretting the previous. And yet – the enigma is still unsolved.

So let me reframe. Forget about the busy street for a moment. You can always go back. Though not completely, but you probably already know that by now. I will not take you back there, that’s for sure.

Instead, let me ask you a couple of questions. Have you ever looked forward to something and felt this deep craving for it to begin … like a gourmet meal, a long-waited sequel from a favorite author, a lover’s embrace? The longing is almost physical, right? You can feel it in your mind, but it also makes your skin tingle.

And then it arrives. The moment of desire. Immediately, when you begin to devour your craving, you can’t wait to be done. You race towards the ending – you eat a little too fast, you skip a couple of lines or even pages, you beg for release. You want closure.

So let me ask you this … where is the pleasure really? In the wanting? In the waiting? In the climax? Or in the memory? In the enigma solved.

To let you know that you can’t really trust me, I’ll take you back to the busy street. Back to the moment where your eyes lock with that stranger’s glance. There’s a story there – you realize that, don’t you? It’s the first link in that Dickensian chain of iron or gold, it’s the road not taken, it’s the red wheelbarrow.

Look around. What do you see?

So many untold stories I hold.

I am Now. I am Your Enigma. Your story. Your choice. There can be only one of me. Be. Here. Now. Please. Make me matter. Breathe.

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