Photography 101: Mystery

I can think of no better icon of mystery than the sky.  The heavens in “Big Sky Country”, the American West, give plenty of fodder for pondering mysteries of all magnitudes, from “Do you think it’s going to rain?” to “Are there other life forms on those twinkly planets?”  I wish that I had the proper equipment to photograph the night sky in New Mexico.  The number of stars visible to the naked eye is astounding.  We had a new moon night with a view of the Milky Way that was indeed mystical.  It put my own life into a different perspective.  Here’s a gallery of some mysterious skies:

Living With Mystery

Possessing a human brain is no picnic. The cumbersome chunk of gray matter is quite the dictator. It wants to know: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? It shines the light in our eyes, makes us squint and squirm until we come up with an answer. And “I don’t know” won’t appease its inquisition. Somewhere in our distant evolutionary history, this dictatorship must have presented some advantage to survival. Possibly it pressed us to a more efficient way to find food or use tools or attract a desirable mate. When the interrogation continues after it has served its immediate purpose, it becomes rather annoying and can create anxiety, frustration, torment and suffering. Think of a 4-year-old asking “Why?” to every explanation offered. It never ends. When you shout back, “I DON’T KNOW!” do you feel you’ve failed and slink off to ponder your existence? (For a good example of this “insane deconstruction” peppered with ‘adult language’, check out comedian Louis C.K. in this clip.)

Humor aside, the suffering is universal. We have all lived the anguish of a mystery at some point. As I write this, I am thinking of all the people whose loved ones disappeared on the Malaysian jet that has been missing for 11 days. Unanswered and unanswerable questions must plague them. The few photos of their grief that I’ve seen are hard to bear. Add to that circle connected to those 239 people all of the families of military personnel MIA throughout history, all of the families of travelers to foreign countries in unstable political climates who never returned, all of the parents of children abducted and gone without a trace. The stories of devastation are heart-breaking and inevitable. The common denominator is The Great Mystery – Death. Ironically, it is the most mundane mystery as well. We will all be touched by it, every one. And we know it. The two deaths that I experienced first hand were not shrouded by any great cloud of darkness. My sister and my husband both died right beside me: my sister in the driver’s seat of a car, my husband in our bed. They were not ‘missing’ by any means. And yet, I will never have the answer to basic questions like, “What were they feeling?” “When exactly did they lose consciousness?” “Was I to blame?”

 Mystery is the Truth. We do not know. We delude and comfort our demanding brains in a parade of ideas. When that effort is expended, can we accept and live with Mystery? What does that feel like? How do I do that?

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You see, again the questions surface, the never-ending tide of the probing lobe of consciousness. Maybe some day that flow will be replaced by the still, mirrored surface of a quiet mind.

 Peace out,

Priscilla

© 2014, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

It’s a Mystery

Geoffrey Rush’s voice must read the title of this post. 

And here are the photo mysteries of the day: why are these posts sticking out of the ground?  What are they for?  Who put them there?  When?  I would love to get some sample conjectures.  I am fascinated, as a historic interpreter, at the way we take clues and put them into the context of a story.  So tell me the story of these…