According to the urban dictionary, “suspension of disbelief” is the point at which you must give up all skepticism, and just accept what goes against all that you think you know. We do that during a magic show or reading fantasy or even a happily ever after tale, and maybe even on vacation.
I just returned from several days, actually 9, at the beach with family. On the way, I attempted to finish some work that I thought needed to be turned in before I left. It didn’t and after my first day, even when it was cloudy and raining in sunny southern California, I didn’t think about it again.
On another day I heard some disheartening news. I was concerned, but realized I was powerless in the situation, except to send my love. The concerns were backgrounded as I turned my attention and thankfulness for the gentle breeze and sunshine floating on the surf.
How does that happen? Maybe it is a mind trick or maybe it is another form of suspending all the belief I had about what is important or necessary at that moment. Maybe it is freedom to pay attention to the gentle breeze instead of the family storm. Maybe the key is the “all that you think you know” part. All that I think I know isn’t what could be or even what is. Henri Nouwen in Bread for the Journey says
Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain (and I’m adding worry) about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.
I can see what is before me: a magnificent sunset, my precious sister, a loving husband, a delicious piece of strawberry pie. I could choose to see: work that is still not finished, what might be happening thousands of miles away, wallow in the what if’s. It is a choice. It’s not running from shadows that are real or pretending that the tensions aren’t visible. It is “sustaining reality,” what is before me, right now, that is worthy of my attention.