The Magic of Maybe

“‘Maybe,’ Mister Ernest said. ‘The best word in our language, the best of all. That’s what mankind keeps going on: maybe.’”

See? William Faulkner actually could write coherent sentences. This one comes from the end of his short story, “Race at Morning.”

I love Faulkner.

I know, you probably had to read The Sound and The Fury in high school and got frustrated and threw it across your room and decided you HATED Faulkner. But really, that wasn’t his fault. It was the institution’s fault for forcing teachers to cram books at students before they’re ready for them and in a way that kills and autopsies the work so that it’s dead, dead, dead. And that’s why you hated it. Not him. Not his beautiful words. Not his ideas.

Like this idea of Maybe being better than a “yes” or a “no”—you have to love that, right?

We’ve become a culture of yesses and nos. This or that. Here or there. One side or the other. We pride ourselves on knowing our own minds.

But where’s the fun in that?

Is there intelligent alien life in the universe?

Maybe. I don’t know. Let’s go look.

Will I have a brownie today?

Maybe. I don’t know, but it’s a yummy possibility.

Is there something real hiding in the dark in the corner that’s making my skin prick at the back of my neck or is it all my imagination?

Maybe. What might it be?
(It’s the vashta nerada, people! Don’t you watch Doctor Who?)

For writers, Maybe is where the magic lives. No preconceptions. No expectations. No rules. We get to explore and imagine and wonder.

But Maybe isn’t just for writers crafting stories on a page, or readers reading them. It’s in the stories we live out each day. Open doors and hope and possibility.

The joy of the journey isn’t in finding the answers—it’s in admitting we don’t know, actually embracing and reveling in the not knowing, and then exploring all those possibilities.

This week I’m going to bask in “I don’t know.” Maybe you’ll join me.