The Hidden Agenda of Solving Mysteries

I love to solve mysteries

When I was a kid I remember the one book series that I really liked was Encyclopedia brown. It was a book about a kid who was so smart that he could solve his father’s police work over a family dinner discussion. This love for mysteries would grow as I read Agatha Christie novels and eventually lead to my love for manga (japanese comics) like Detective Conan or reading Haruki Murakami novels (Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84). I love piecing together different information to figure out the whole picture or what the author was trying to say.

The thing I enjoy about mystery is the journey in solving or figuring out the end to something. Through struggles and triumphs, you grow in understanding something and there is this sense of accomplishment when you come to a conclusion or if you solve it right.

But there is one mystery that I always fail to solve

and that’s relationships.

When I mean relationships I specifically mean being in a romantic relationship with a significant other. Being able to figure out what they need, what they want, and at times what the heck they are trying to communicate to you has been a constant learning process for me.

Over the course of my dating life I’ve had a couple of things about relationships that I’ve yet to fully understand:
  1. Why is it that both of us are stating in clear words what we want yet we can completely misinterpret it and do the exact opposite action?
  2. Even though I hear ever word that you are saying, I still have no idea what you really mean
Overall it’s about getting to know a person and understanding yourself well. The understanding yourself well is something that I can track progress in. But to understand another person completely? To me it seems like it’s a long road ahead to getting there. And it feels like you gotta restart every time you meet a new person.
In tense relationship moments, I find myself trying to go about it like I do when I watch a mystery film, book, or game. I try to gather all the information, make conclusions, learn from my mistakes, and then hopefully get it right. But alas this strategy has never fully worked for me.

I find myself pursuing some impossible

dream. How can you actually understand someone to

the fullest?


I’ve been taking a religious studies class and my professor talked about something interesting about the pursuit to knowing a higher being like God. Often times we may get frustrated about trying to “figure God out” but often times it’s the mystery of who He is or His nature that often brings us more curiosity and wonder. He equated this with our relationship with our significant other. No matter how long you stay with someone and state how much you might know them, he argued that you won’t fully know them COMPLETELY. In fact, this is something to embrace.

Discovering something new about someone through out your life is one of the ways that brings about a lasting relationship. And to know something new about them means you have to be comfortable with the mystery.


Mystery is what makes someone interesting and it makes us take a

step back and feel a sense of wonder

Figuring out someone is not a conquest, it’s not a way to feel good when you solve it, or a checklist to cross off. Its embracing the other as who they are and sit in it. To me this is a challenge, cause my thoughts are always to understand someone completely so that I won’t make any mistakes.
But when I think about nature and when I look at the ocean, I find myself in complete utter awe of the mystery of it. The fact that it exists, the fact of how much life it sustains, and all the things we have yet to know about it.
And when I think about that, I don’t get frustrated or sad about it. Rather, very naturally, I find myself smiling and am mesmerized looking at the mystery that we call the ocean.

In my pursuit to being someone who constantly grows, I desire being

someone who can accept someone for who they are, mystery and all.

Just like staring at the ocean or staring into the celestial sky, being someone who can be in awe of another person and look at her for who she is.
The only thing I guess I need to figure out is what “scenery” I’m willing to stare at for the rest of my life.
All photos from my friend Daniel Hoffman.

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