Taking a moment to sort through life's mysteries and socks

Out of the Woods

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002

Nita Nettleton can be reached at nitan@alaska.com.

Ask a random group of people what happens when you die, whether insects see full spectrum color or where socks go from the dryer and you'll get as many answers as there are people in the group. I'm willing to bet that not one will say, "I don't know and I've never wondered." We all wonder all the time. What we do with our wonder is what makes us who we are.

When we are born, everything is a mystery. Slowly but surely, we gum the clues that come within reach and we start to figure things out. Sadly, that is about the last factual information we get, because that's when we begin to understand what everyone is talking about. There comes a day in early childhood when we realize we aren't always told verifiable fact. There is a lot of opinion mixed in and we have to sort it out. Our challenge is to reconcile "go look it up" and "because I said so" being in the same sentence. That continues to the day we die, or later, depending on your view.

There was an article in last Sunday's paper about eight reasons for optimism in the new year. One of the reasons was that the Hubble Space Telescope is poised to give us solid evidence on the question of the fate of the universe. The theory is that it will expand forever. I am on the edge of my seat on this one because just what to expect with all this expanding is near the top of my unacceptable mystery list. Wait, you're right, I don't have a list. I accept a lot of mystery, up to and including the universe thing. The stuff I want revealed is closer to home. I want to know if the lump in the gloom at the end of the driveway is something I should rescue. Or the name of the person I just had a great conversation with in the grocery store.

We all have different approaches to mystery and that's what makes us interesting. Though sharing our conclusions has started a lot of fights, it's usually just educational and entertaining. How much fun is it sitting next to someone on the bus who feels compelled and qualified to analyze your dreams? That's one book you won't have to buy. Music is a sneaky venue for a lot of mystery revelation. You probably sing along with dozens of tunes that you aren't even aware are giving you very deep truths. Truths that rhyme.

There are people who don't accept any amount of mystery. They work out the big questions, the little ones and everything in the middle. This group will invest in the stock market, but they'll check on their stocks several times a day, writhing in bliss or agony. We also have news junkies here and the people who consult Miss Cleo. These folks have a need to know. Obviously, they don't make good federal employees because the sheer volume and changing character of the acronyms alone are unfathomable. Government workers with any self-preservation instincts put themselves on a strict "need to know" basis at signup.

Because I know you are curious and still shuffling around in the first paragraph, wondering, here are the Answers:

When you die you either follow a white light to a beautiful garden where there is no ironing and are reunited with all the people you love or you aren't.

Insects see what they want to see because they can't stand mysteries. Just kidding. Not that it's any of your business, they see what they need to see because they are so terribly focused and in a big hurry to get all their chores done before they die. Don't ask me what happens when they die.

The socks, well, where to begin with the socks. I had hoped to wait until you were older, but if you can tell me which came first, the dryer or the sock, I'll spill everything.

Nita Nettleton can be contacted at nitan@alaska.com or via the Psychic Hotline.

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