The Mystery of Life

I was at my dad’s apartment going through some files I left there, and found one with a bunch of old photographs- the paper kind, when people used to take pictures with a film camera, then take the film to be developed, and get paper pictures back. Does anyone do that any more?

Many weren’t mine, so I sorted them for distribution to other family members. One I couldn’t tell who it belonged to. It was a picture of a woman next to a large, multi-figure sculpture. On the back it said “Mystery of Life, Glendale cemetery, 2001”. The woman in the picture looked like my mother’s sister, but she was long gone in 2001, and the writing looked like my mother’s, but she was long gone in 2001. So who took the picture, why and who it belonged to remain a mystery.

My curiosity was piqued so I looked it up. There is indeed a sculpture called “The Mystery of Life” at the Forest Lawn memorial park in Glendale, California, and it looks like this-

Forest Lawn mystery of life 6.23

A variety of figures surround a pair of doves, who have apparently just hatched an egg, although I can’t find a picture that shows it. This provokes them to ponder the mystery of life.

It’s a little different for a cemetery sculpture. Catholic cemeteries usually have a pieta, a sculpture of Mary holding the dead body of Jesus, or Jesus carrying a lamb, or just single statues of saints, reinforcing the idea of life after death. Forest Lawn provides services to people of a variety of beliefs, including agnostics, so something like this may be aimed at them.

I have never been to a funeral with an internment at a cemetery, but I’m guessing that people who go there are a little disoriented, and that the death is not so much what has them thinking about things they usually don’t, but the life.

“What was that all about? What was the purpose of it?” they think. The “departed” may have had a pretty nice life, or a pretty rotten one. Whatever the case it is over, and why it happened and what meaning it had is hard to understand a lot of the time.

People don’t ask to be born, they just are. They are then left to cope with a decision made by their parents. The options for understanding it are limited, and you may not be able to stick with one your whole life. My sister, a scrupulous Catholic, now has doubts, long after it is too late to be a hedonist or something else.

I was driving to work this morning and an old song by Cheap Trick, “Surrender”, came on the radio. It’s an artifact of my youth, so I cranked it up. I realized that I was no longer the child in the song, but the parents.

We are a mystery to ourselves, and a mystery to others. I hope someday we can all understand.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Mystery of Life

  1. Pingback: The Mystery of Life | Deconstructing Leftism

  2. Pingback: The Mystery of Life | The Alt-Right View

  3. Hizzle

    I know you read Charlton, and I think he’s correct that the primacy and importance of death has been made too taboo in the West (as has the aging process). I’m not saying we need to go back to the days when a body was lain in a bed of ice for a showing/service for a week in the house, but maybe strolling through the cemetery every once in awhile is good for the soul.

    It also helps to remember that death isn’t a punishment, but a reward, whether you’re secular or religious. Who hasn’t been tired after a long day, and understood that the desire for sleep nigh on approaches need after a certain threshold has been reached?

  4. J-Marc

    Hello,
    My first name is Jean- Marc I am French, Bordeaux ! I have in my city the same sculpture of the ” mystery of life” its author is an Italian sculptor Ernesto Gazzeri he only completed two full copy of this work in 1917, one in Bordeaux and one in Glendale . This work is in fact an interpretation of life or we come from and to where we will …
    have a good day

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