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  • Writer's pictureRae Gateley, LCSW

The Enduring Mysteries

"We may have a tacit understanding of how our solar system works, but watching the sun disappear behind the moon reminds us of the vastness of space and the enduring mysteries of the universe we inhabit. They remind us that we are somehow both infinitesimal and infinite, that despite the confines and tedium of our daily lives, we live in an amazing reality, one that we lack the language to truly articulate." - Jenna Wortham

Four years ago, many of us in North America were preparing for a great event - a total solar eclipse, which occurred August 21, 2017. The words above are from journalist Jenna Wortham's musings , Your Playlist for the Solar Eclipse, in which she beautifully captures the paradox of awe - that awareness of ourselves as tiny, and yet vitally connected to something limitless. Wortham included in her article a playlist of 20 songs that invoke that feeling, helping her to "both lose and find myself." Wortham's selections didn't really work for me, but I do feel inspired by her example to seek out my own favorites. What about you - what would be on your playlist?

I took the photo below during the 2017 eclipse. It was amazing to see the change in the dappled shadows cast by the same tree that I had seen hundreds of times before. I was forced to pay attention in a new way, and I realized that I didn't really understand what I'd been looking at all along. I was experiencing the aspect of awe known as "need for accomodation," (Keltner and Haidt, 2003) in which we have to adjust our thinking to make sense of and make room for a new awareness. My dog Shiro appears unmoved, probably because she lives in a constant state of joy and wonder independent of eclipse shadows. If, like most humans, you aren't blessed with Shiro's constant zest for life, I encourage you to seek out and enjoy moments of awe which bring you into contact with the enduring mysteries.

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