The title does not refer to a movie.
It refers to a book.
But – to life as well.
For life is indeed a mystery.
I’ve been re-reading some classics, which I read a long time ago, for the first time, when I was young.
Perhaps we do young people a disservice by letting them read these books, creating the perception that once they’ve been read, they won’t be of any value to read again.
My reading list started with HG Wells.
The Invisible Man.
The Time Machine.
The Island of Doctor Marrieu.
Reading them again, from a different place, a different age, different experiences, allowed me to see some different things.
I’ve just finished The Mysterious Island.
And now I’m onto Swiss Family Robinson.
I think next, I’ll visit Captain Nemo on his Nautilus.
I never realized he was Indian Royalty.
I think he is a character I will relate to well.
What I notice, in all these stories, as if they were written by one hand (and my short list includes but 3 authors, who wrote at a very similar time) is a fierceness.
A devotion to life.
This appeals to me.
All the characters in all these stories come across as if they have a deep understanding of ‘responsibility’, not the 21st century-kind of pay your bills and be on time for work.
A enigmatic responsibility.
Of, ‘my life is not to be lived solely for my self’.
‘My life is mine’.
‘My oife is my responsibility’.
‘But it is not mine to spend only on my self’.
‘It is to be spent on contributing’.
‘To something, or maybe Someone, other than I.’
All of them, the scientist who was consumed by his own experiment and disconnected from society, the amateur scientist who believed in more dimensions and travelled to the end of time and found that time does not end, the genetecist who desired to raise creatures exploring the fine line between humanity and instinct, the soldiers stranded on their Island and the Swiss family shipwrecked on another – they all express an awareness that they are not the Masters of their destiny.
And along with this awareness, they continually express a deep gratitude.
For life itself.
They value knowledge and hard work.
But they know this, on its own, is no guarantee of success.
They experience success, not as accumulated wealth or infamy.
They translate it into ‘creating’ wherever the Author of all things might’ve chosen to bring them, amidst whatever circumstances they might have to endure.
These characters do not give up.
Amidst volcanoes and destruction.
They do not give themselves to hopelessness.
Aware that there are no guarantees.
Yet, convinced that there is a Guarantee.
An Author Who is part of the story being written.
They know the Order of things.
And they embrace it.
And with resilience.
In all of them, I see an affinity which develops over time, as they invest their time and energy in sustaining life and contributing to something bigger.
They get attached.
To the Island where they find themselves.
To the creatures they’ve brought to life.
And perhaps their attachment, speaks of the attachment of the Author of All, to what was and is brought into being.
I see it in myself.
I notice it, as I make my way from one place to the next.
I come to love where I’ve given myself.
Love what I’ve invested my time and energy and ceativity into.
We are often, in this time, denied this privilege.
It is nothing new.
Islands are consumed by lava.
Time Machines get lost in a distant time.
Submarines sink to the bottom of the Ocean.
And then we love again, as we invest some more.
The Book not our concern.
Only the page.
The one page where I find myself now.
And so, I want to encourage you.
See that the Author of All, is.
And if I, so low in the Order, yet so raised by Them, get attached to what I spend myself on, how much more do They Who are our Origin and Source?
How much more do you imagine, do They get attached, and love, what has come from Them?
See the Author of All – and be filled with ferocity.
To live responsible for your self.
To take up this burden we carry from here to there.
To live gratefully.
Knowing that knowledge and hard work is precious, but always in the Hand Of Them from whom we come.
Not exposed to Them, but in Their grace and kindness.
Filled with meaning as my little life unfolds through loss and gain and loss again.
Every loss, creating space, in my being and existence for new gain.
Every gain, creating new foundations, new depth and breadth and opportunity, to lose again and become a little more.
Always woven in, written into the Big Plot which is unfolding from eternity to eternity.
I follow the Swiss Family around their Island, after having spent time with the Invisible Man and the Time Traveller and those 6 intrepid Collonists who came away from a war between North and South, and I am inspired by their gratitude.
By their sense of Life.
And I think of those who took the time to pen these fantasies.
And I say thank you to them too.
For they have preserved something.
Something I desperately need in 2017.
Which is filled with hope.
And so I commute by bicycle, bus and subway.
And I teach, as best I can.
And cook dinner.
And play with my little girl.
And love my Zuko.
And embrace my oldest three as they emerge into adulthood.
And write, a little bit, as well.
Filled with gratitude.
Aware of our Origin, with renewed conviction of the value of knowledge and hard work.
Resolute to let my life be a contribution.
As I receive my own Mysterious Island with all its beasts and storms and providential supplies.