My friend's father was a big, flamboyant, larger than life personality. So I was particularly surprised to hear the advice he gave her – almost 60 years ago now – when she started dating. "Don't reveal everything on the first date. Or the second. Or the third... Maintain a sense of mystery."
This struck a chord and alerted me to yet another quality that we have lost in our “bare all” (preferably to a wide range of people) society.
A constant sense of discovery makes life interesting, keeps jobs stimulating and marriages vibrant. We don’t want to feel like we already know all there is to know and that each day is “same old, same old”, a real life version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. If I reveal all – on Facebook, in my initial conversation, in a written memoir, then I rob myself and those I have a relationship with of the opportunity to discover who I am on their own. They will not even be motivated to look since everything is already there, in their face (book).
Perhaps that’s why God put Adam to sleep when He created Eve. He wanted to maintain a sense of mystery. Adam was spared from seeing his wife being created from bone and sinew and blood and muscle.
Maintaining this mystery requires two things. It requires constant learning and growing so that there is something new on a regular basis and it necessitates not sharing everything with everyone. No one and nothing feels special when it is posted for all of your 500 friends to see. Being one of 500 not only destroys all mystery; it destroys all sense of friendship as well!
Being mysterious may also mean being discreet, living simply. My friend’s father was extremely wealthy but they lived in a very modest home and drove a station wagon (those minivans of yesteryear!) This was a conscious choice not to flaunt his riches in everyone’s face. This was to teach his family what his real values were and to emphasize this idea of not putting all one’s riches on display.
Like shame, modesty, privacy and discretion, the sense of mystery has been lost. In the most blatant example of this people wear clothing that was formerly reserved for the beach or bedroom on the streets of America. And, as it does with the rest of our lives, this lack of mystery has a price. It makes our intimate lives less private, less exciting, less special… dare I say, less mysterious.
I don’t think this is a conscious thought. I don’t think most people realize what they’re missing. And that’s too bad. But perhaps if we all try to add just a little mystery back into our lives – if we try not to reveal all – with our clothing or with our mouths – we will begin to appreciate what’s possible and re-inject some of the original mystery back into all of our relationships.