There's beauty in the mystery

One of the hazards of being a photographer is that you notice the oddest things; art is everywhere.  This, for example, is a reflection in the door of our local coffee shop.  The shadow of the barista is inside; the garden that shares the building is outside shining in from behind him, and there is a taxi waiting outside the door.

I've learned from experience that pictures like this are not generally the pictures that sell: most people prefer to hang something on their walls that's either obviously and boldly abstract or else instantly recognizable. 

I'm not quite certain why that would be true, but I suspect it's another version of a phenomenon we learned about in a workshop we took a few weeks ago on social learning disorders.  And that is that children who are less obviously disabled are more likely to be bullied than either "normal" children or more obviously disabled children. It seems that we get more uncomfortable -- even fearful -- around things and people we can't easily categorize.  We humans tend to prefer to keep things in boxes, predictable, controllable. 

And, knowing that, we tend to want to control what is seen at first glance, to protect that which is different and unique in us from the prying eyes of the bully.  The masking behaviors we all indulge in --the clothes, the hair, the language, the gestures, the makeup (if you wear it)-- are all designed to control that first impression. "See?" say the masking behaviors, "I'm normal, predictable.  You don't need to bully me; I'm just like you." 

Perhaps the purpose of art is to reverse that process, to invite the viewer to stop, to look behind the surface, to see that there is more to the picture -- and so much more to life -- than what is immediately apparent. I'd like to think that when we take the time to look more deeply we'll discover the beauty that wells up out of mystery, and will find it resonates with the mystery which lies within each of us.  Perhaps a few experiences of that will help to lessen our fear of that unpredictable other-ness.


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