There is a passage in Richard Power’s thought-provoking new novel, Bewilderment, that I find myself returning to again and again.
It describes an epiphany of sorts he has when considering his son and the undiagnosed mental health issues he is dealing with. He writes:
“Watching medicine fail my child, I developed a crackpot theory: Life is something we need to stop correcting. My boy was a pocket universe I could never hope to fathom. Everyone of us is an experiment and we don’t even know what the experiment is testing.”
This is not a quote of resignation but acceptance – of ourselves and each other and of life. It is dripping with humility and curiosity.
The word experiment is derived from the Latin term experiri ‘ – meaning to try.
In this case, trying to find new ways of being, as individuals or in the broader sense as a country (the American Experiment) and in the broadest sense, humanity.
I find this idea that we are all “experiments” both frightening and freeing. Frightening in our lack of control. Freeing in that it embraces endless possibility.
Two sides of the same coin. The only part of which we control is how often we choose to flip it.