MIKE BOND is a best-selling novelist who has covered death squads, guerrilla wars and military dictatorships in Latin America and Africa; Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and Europe; and environmental issues worldwide. Bond writes and gives frequent testimony and interviews worldwide on wilderness protection, endangered species, elephant poaching, wolves, whales, tigers, raptors, rain forests, climate change, renewable energy and ecosystem loss. Bond has been called the 'master of the existential thriller by the BBC and “one of the 21st century’s most exciting authors” by the Washington Times. His ancestors were among the first westerners in Hawaii, he is a bestselling novelist, international energy expert, war and human rights correspondent and award-winning poet who has lived and worked in many remote, dangerous parts of the world. His critically acclaimed novels depict the innate hunger of the human heart for what is good, the intense joys of love, the terror and fury of battle, the sinister vagaries of international politics and multinational corporations and the vanishing beauty of the natural world His books include Killing Maine, Saving Paradise, The Last Savanna, House of Jaguar, among many others.
Mysteries of Life
In all the world there’s only one mystery story. It’s entitled, What’s Gonna Happen Next? And what it’s really about is life and death.
Life and death are our greatest, our final, mystery. We’re here, wherever here is, in a universe we don’t understand, in something we call time that we cannot understand, where nearly everything is beyond our comprehension. Where what we don’t know far outweighs the little we think we do know.
And when we die, what then?
Despite such concerns we do a good job of soldiering along, pretending we’ve got it all figured out (there is or isn’t a God etc., or maybe that we’ll be reborn and all this will be explained later). Or we ignore it – why worry about what we can’t possibly understand? We go to meetings and fall in love and get stuck in traffic and avoid thinking of death.
But death is what’s really going to happen next.
Thus we love mysteries and thrillers where characters risk death, or die unexpectedly, victimized by evils or fate. Because in these stories we experience death yet come back alive. And each experience helps us understand life and death a little more.
When we say mystery we mean the unknown, something we want to know. Whether it’s the identity of a killer, a motivation of a character, or a puzzle we can’t solve, mystery draws us in, entices us, worries us, begs to be elucidated. But the real mysteries – life, death, time, the universe, the soul – are all around us, and we can’t solve them.
Mystery had once a far more sacred meaning, which still endures subconsciously: from the Greek mystērion, the secret worship of a deity or sacred thing. Its root is myein, to shut the eyes. In ancient religions, certain rites, called mysteries, were practiced only by initiated persons, and included sacrifices, purifications, dances and songs. In the early Christian churches, the mystery meant the sacrament, the Eucharist itself, the essence of God.
So we shut our eyes, eradicate the visible, in order to understand the sacred meaning of life. Similarly, when we read mysteries we come in contact with the unknown, with death, crime and motivation, the sacred. And the deeper this contact the more permanent the experience.
Thus in a mystery the writer should put you, the reader, in the dangerous, exciting center of the story. The writer must not only tell the tale, but must also so deeply communicate the action, the place and circumstances that you, the reader, live them too. So that you are there, and the story becomes yours. And that when you’re old it’s still yours. Because you’ve lived it.
In my own life I’ve been tantalized by mystery, by what is behind the wall, over the next hill. As a result I’ve lived some terrifying times, in wars and revolutions, or alone and hunted in deadly foreign cities, clinging to a cliff without a rope, hunting elephant poachers, lost in vast deserts or freezing in the north. Because penetrating the mystery turned me on so much I couldn’t resist, no matter how dangerous it was. Because living that deeply is a key to the mystery. It doesn’t decode the mystery but it helps us understand it.
These experiences, and the mysteries behind them, are what I try to share. As in our prehistoric days, when we sat around a fire at a cave mouth and talked about what each of us had seen that day, where the antelope were grazing or cave lions might be lurking. We were sharing tidbits of the unknown, giving each other the knowledge to live more successfully, to survive.
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