Proust Nature Questionnaire – Charlene Winfred

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CHARLENE WINDFRED is a Fujifilm X-Photographer who captures exquisitely the byproduct of a life in perpetual transit. She was born and raised in Singapore. She lived for 15 years in Australia. In 2013, she sold everything and began the life of a nomad.

3 words to describe Nature?

Overwhelming, longing, life

3 things Nature taught you?

That life persists. That death comes for us all. That to be able to walk, to test my body against the earth, is one of the finest abilities I am lucky enough to take for granted (at the moment, anyway)

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park. The open ocean. Any inner city park, being the closest I normally get to Nature… sad but true!

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Overwhelmed and calmed at the same time

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like I want to go for a very long walk and look at everything. This very rarely happens, however.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I’ve never actually seen one, so I’ll get back to you when I do!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Sunrise – it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those. Next! Sunset – whenever I’m in a position to see an entire sunset vista, it honestly makes me feel like having a glass of wine.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Glad to be inside!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like I want to be outside, running around like a crazy person.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Of the 4, the Ocean has been the only one I can say I’ve been to enough to be familiar with its many moods. I like to think I’d be a mountain person, because I find rocks strangely comforting to be around (and climbing is one of the things I’ve wished I could afford to do since I was a kid), but that could be me romanticizing both mountains and my affinity for them! Again, will get back to you if/when that actually happens.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10, because it’s everything. We can’t live without nature can we?

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

There are no maritime background, or lineage of proud/rogue sailors in my family’s runaway past. My father was a mad keen fisherman though, and that’s probably where my draw to the ocean started. Dad would disappear for days on these extended fishing trips in the South China sea when I was little, bringing back ice chests full of all sorts of fish and a bunch of awesome stories each time (he was a sensational story teller). I begged to go for years and kept being told it would happen as soon as I was old enough.

So that was my 8th birthday present. My parents worried for their small, sickly child out at sea during the onset of the monsoon season, but as Dad would recall about 20 years later, I’d positively flourished in those 5 days. That was the beginning of yearly trips in Malaysian waters.

The things I remember about being at sea: Stormy days – large approaching masses of angry water waiting to eat the boat, securing anything that would fly when being tossed around. Listening to the boat creak and moan woefully in the thrash. Afterwards, small fish roiling on the water as the clouds moved away, far as the eye could see in every direction; a lone marlin worrying a frantic ball of its prey in the water, the glorious still-frame of a sailfish in flight, a line of sunlight gleaming off its saltwater lacquered dorsal fin, down curved flank and flashing off its sickle of tail. The curious, heady mix of brine and diesel fumes (and in this case, old fish) that to me, will always mean “port.”

But what I retain most about those days is staring up at clouds puffing into existence, wavering shards of sunlight converging conical to a point in the water, or at a horizon that was never really still, the way it is on land. I never took to fishing, but it allowed me to spend days dreaming in any available spot on the boat, with or without a rod in hand.

charlene

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Flemming Bo Jensen

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FLEMMING BO JENSEN is a Fujifilm ambassador, official Red Bull photographer and renowned music photographer. Music, especially electronic music, is a big part of what makes his heart beat. For him, being able to combine music and photography is a dream come true. Since November 2009 he has lived as a nomad. He was the former Head of IT in a Danish Government agency, but wanted to see new horizons and left Copenhagen and his job in 2009. He has been on the road for more than 7 years now, and is still wandering the world, although can usually be found in Copenhagen during the summer months, enjoying the music festivals. He is the author of the ebook GET IN THE LOOP – How To Make Great Music Images.

3 words to describe Nature?

Awe-inspiring. Heals. Home.

3 things Nature taught you?

I was born and brought up on a dairy farm, so here goes: Respect and love for our planet, nature and animals. Where I truly belong. And a cow standing on your 8 year old foot will not move and not care how much it hurts.

– oh as I started traveling, I learned a 4: Nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito!

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park, Utah, USA. Rottnest Island, Western Australia. My home country and landscapes of Himmerland, Denmark.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I was born on a farm, not near water so it used to make me feel great fear and a little bit drawn to it at the same time. Now that I learned how to swim and free-dive it still makes me feel fear – but now I want to go in it and explore!

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Peaceful, in a fairy tale, carrying mosquito repellent, afraid we will someday have no more forests.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I will let you know when I see one!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

I am not a morning person so sunrises are rare, unless they happen at 10am in the Scandinavian winter and I can have a coffee with it! Sunset makes me feel like bliss, like we are given a few minutes glimpse into a possible state of the world if we tried harder to protect nature, a few minutes where everything is alright.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Time to get the cows inside 🙂

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Cold. The wind is always cold in the Nordics.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Desert. I love wide open spaces.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10. My body couldn’t breathe without it. My soul couldn’t live without it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I used to take our dogs for long walks down the fields, just to be out there alone (featuring cows), in a wide open space feeling that everything is possible.

flemming

Nature Meditation – HYGGE

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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Little Prince

There are thousands of them, sparks of ember rising from the fire and flying into the night sky. Their incandescence leaves traces against the darkness – erratic tapestry of temporary glowing streaks. My stare, previously locked on the burning logs, starts moving up. It picks up on a particular spark and follows it as it ascends and reaches to the stars. My imaginary mind can’t hold itself and creatively realizes that it has figured out where stars come from – millions of tiny embers from millions of campfires, over millions of years, that have flown high into the universe and settled. Once, these tiny Beings of Fire warmed our hearts, bodies, hands and skin; but now, hanging up above and out of reach, they warm our souls and make us dream about the infinite possibilities that lie beyond.

Around the campfire, friends are gathered. Through the grapevines, I hear many conversations. To my right, people are talking about the fish caught earlier, the same fish that we are now cooking on hot stones just inches away from the fire. There is a salty and crispy barbecue aroma lingering around that is tantalizing and torturing our hungry stomachs.

To my left, I can hear the excitement in recounting the day paddle of discovery, exploring two nearby bays – there was a great heron that was croaking at us, annoyed at having his secret stash of food disturbed. There was also the sight of a marauding mink, nearby rocks that were covered with seaweed and barnacles, sometimes going for a swim and diving for crabs. A family of deer grazing on a field, tucked between trees, was looking at us probably wondering why would any creature wear so many bright different colors and carry such a distinct plasticky scent.

In front of me across the fire, I can’t hear what the other people are talking about. I might not be able to hear their words but their bodies are speaking loud and clear. I can see the happiness on their faces. I see the glow of Life in their eyes. Their hands waving in the air with excitement.

For a minute, I contemplate at the impact fire has had on our evolution, not only transforming our eating habits, but also  – and I would argue even more importantly – transforming the way we interact. Beyond the purpose of hunting and security, it brought people together. Fire staged the birth for storytelling and laid the foundation to building communities. It created a place in time for people to bond, share, and connect. Here, in the outdoors, surrounded by a world that pre-existed me, I am connecting and bonding to my fellow humans and to nature in the same way that my ancestors did a million years ago.

The Danish have a word for the overall emotion that runs within my body: Hygge (pronounced ‘hYOOguh’), a deep satisfying state of well-being, a happiness that is rooted in being with others, enjoying life, living in the moment, eating, celebrating, and conversing. Looking around the campfire and seeing all of this love and happiness flowing, I come to understand how this word has become a cultural pride and the core of their identity.

Christmas and the holidays are a time to be Hygge. It is a time to stop and reconnect. A time to leave behind the worries and to celebrate life and the people that surround us.

This week, as we prepare ourselves to visit or receive our families and friends, lets take a moment to meditate on the joy and laughs these people have brought us, these memories of happiness that have happened over a good dinner or by a crackling fire in the chimney.

“Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen, Danish Author

Read more about Hygge on NPR or BBC

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Nature Meditation – TE NO UCHI

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

It is a stormy day. The winds are blowing hard from the Pacific. The sky, which was blue and limitless yesterday, is now obstructed by dark clouds that loom over my head in a threatening manner. The ocean, which was calm and smoothing only 12 hours ago, is now pounding on the rocks with fury and in a thunderous crash. Amidst this chaotic landscape, sea gulls and terns glide with ease; a tip of a wing there, and one bird zooms across only inches above a breaking wave. These creatures have truly mastered the art of moving through the air, riding the invisible currents with finesse and grace.

Far out in the open I noticed a cargo ship pushing its way through — probably heading for a long ocean crossing — delivering goods to Asia. This beast of steel is defying the elements. Its immense volume is keeping it afloat. At its stern under water and hidden away, petals of metal are propelling it forward, while at its bow, the hull is clashing with the waves; steel against water, solidity against fluidity!

While the cargo ship and sea birds couldn’t be more different and representing a total opposite philosophy of moving through life, the two are actually relying and operating on the exact same core fundamental “tension”. Neither would exist without it. The ship would sink. Its steel would liquefy. The bird would fall. Its feathers would disappear. It is tension that keeps them together. It is tension that makes them move.

Just like the tree that stands tall, the sail that holds the wind, the rock on which I am now sitting, the legs that carry me, the beating of my heart, the sound of my voice, the neurons firing in my brain, the light that comes in through my eyes, the caress of a lover, a helping hand, or even this planet that hosts me and this sun that warms me; each fundamentally exist out of tension, at an intersection, a place where a particular force ends and another begins.

Tension is Nature. It is Life. It is the DNA of everything that is. It creates energy. It is movement and resistance. It is creation and destruction. It is a pause through which life emerges. And the absence of it is Death.

Life is a dynamic journey filled with endless forces. Some of those you will see coming, others will leave you in shock. The goal is not to avoid the resulting tensions but rather to move with them, accept them, embrace them, flourish with them. Understand their necessity and power of transformation.

The Japanese have an expression – Te No Uchi, which originates from finding the perfect sword grip, one that is strong enough so that it can resist a blow, but light enough so that it can be agile and responsive. Today the words are used to express the mastery one has in maintaining the right amount of tension, independently of the forces at play.

This week, whether at work or while doing a headstand, lets take a moment to meditate on the tensions that surround us. Am I a bird? Moving with ease and grace, going with the flow, and using the least amount of energy. Or am I a cargo ship? Plowing my way through, strong and steady but demanding great effort. In this era of change, how can we maintain enough tension so that we can sustain any upcoming challenges while at the same time be flexible enough so that we don’t crack under pressure?

Stillness is not the absence of tensions but rather a harmony within them

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Nature Meditation – BREATHING IN, BREATHING OUT

“Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

My diaphragm contracts creating a vacuum within my lungs that sucks in the air, bringing in the molecules of oxygen on which my survival depends. These two organs, each the size of a football, protected under my rib cage, contain more than 1500 miles of airways. This intricate system of organic conduits in various sizes carries the Earth’s gas all the way to 700 million plus microscopic look alike broccoli head called alveoli. These anatomical structures, in turn, perform an action that has defined the very nature of life since the beginning of time: they take and give back. Oxygen is stripped away from the air, and carbon dioxide is returned. As my diaphragm relaxes, it forces the lungs to release a breath of equal proportion but now of a different composition. My exhale will feed a different kind of organism which will proceed in a reverse manner; delivering oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide.

The output of one is the input of another. And the output from the other is the very same input to the first one.

Every time I inhale, every time I exhale, I am reminded of my interdependence in a reciprocal cycle that has been going on for millions of years. Each molecule that enters my body, has been recycled billions of times, breathed in and breathed out by living and past species for eons, and will be for eons more.

My lungs are the embodiment of this reciprocity. Their main purpose is to connect me with the universe, and with nature. To take from it and give back. As much as one would want this to be a one-way relationship, it is simply impossible to exist without participating. Breathing in is taking from nature, and breathing out is giving back to nature. The more I breathe in, the more I breathe out. The more I take, the more I give back.

“There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life — reciprocity.” Confucius

In our existence, if our bodies are a product of reciprocity, what then will happen if we isolate and disconnect ourselves from the natural world? If the brain has evolved in face of challenges to solve, if our capacity to learn exists only because of our necessity to adapt, then what will we become if we let technology do everything for us? If we forgo the sensuous realm of our senses, are we consequently setting the stage for their disappearance?

This week, lets meditate on our breath and its transcending dynamic. Let’s reflect on our senses and their reciprocal existence. Are we breathing in more than we are breathing out? Is it time for us to let go of our breathe and give back?

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Nature Meditation – UBUNTU

… a person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.” Desmond Tutu

Sitting on a log, with my head slightly tilted forward, I noticed an ant on the ground moving among the pine needles; the same needles that at some point resided on the tree. Once, they fed a wooded giant by collecting sunlight and capturing the air; now, they create an obstacle of monumental proportion to a species 2,000 times smaller than me.

The beauty in the moment was filled on a total different level; when alive and green, these coniferous leaves were the benefit of one organism; now dead and brown, they were finding a new purpose. Fallen and released from their host, their collective shear number covered the ground and acted as a blanket that kept the heat trapped under. The heat was necessary to energize the micro organisms that fed on organic matter, needles included. Decomposed and turned into nutrients, these needles were now feeding the soil, the same soil in which the tree was rooted, the same soil from which the tree fed itself from.

Nature is an endless cycle of dependency and duality: the needles wouldn’t exist without the tree and the tree wouldn’t exist without the needles. The soil wouldn’t exist without the trees and the trees wouldn’t exist without the soil. Nothing in the world exists by itself, everything and everyone “is” because of its relationship to another, or to others. This understanding of life is at the core of the South African philosophy, Ubuntu – “I am because of You”, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

While it’s true that Africa is a harsh place, I also know it to be a place whose people, animals and ecosystems teach us about a more interconnected world…” Boyd Varty

It is hard to look at what happened in Paris last week and see that our lives are not only deeply connected to the ones who perished in the event but also to the ones who committed the crimes. Without taking away the severity of the atrocity perpetrated mercilessly, we must surrender to the reality that these actions happened only because they are part of a bigger, connected, and an unfortunate vicious cycle, one in which we all participate.

“You are who you are because of me.” “They are who they are because of us.” 

Understanding the reciprocity of life is crucial if we wish to learn how to prevent future condemnable acts of extreme violence. And the place to start is within ourselves. This week, lets meditate on the past, moments in our lives where we felt attacked, disrespected, or accused; moments of anger, frustration and impatience. If the world is in reciprocity with who I am, if my surroundings is a mirror to my being, am I then a source of love and compassion? Am I inviting kindness and forgiveness or am I creating the exact monster I am now battling?

“So Ubuntu — for us it means that the world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at other people’s expense.” Bill Clinton

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Nature Meditation – GETTING LOST

“ “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau

The irony of the situation is hard to miss. This week’s meditation theme is about “getting lost” and here I am, writing these lines, lost in a world of in-between, in an unwanted place, away from my tribe, struggling to find my bearing. Yesterday, my life was structured and somewhat stable; I had plans, a schedule, confirmed engagements, and I had just celebrated the passing of a major personal milestone. And today, well, all the cards have been thrown up in the air and where they will fall is still unknown. Hours ago, my compass was bearing straight ahead, steady and holding course; now I look at the needle and it is pointing to all directions, going everywhere but the place where I want to go, leaving me in a twilight zone of torment.

How many times have, each one of us, felt this way? How many times have we faced uncertainty, the feeling of powerlessness creeping from the inner depth of our insecurity? In all my years of solo wilderness expeditions and in my personal life, I have always been able to look back at those moments of feeling lost, and, with the acquired wisdom, to see how positively transforming those truly unfortunate events turned out to be; how much I grew personally and spiritually. Despite knowing in my core that it was going to be ok, that I would make it through, I had been there before and that I had all the tools and capacity to find my way again, this chaotic present is still a burden of monumental proportion. And that is ok.

Erika Harris has a wonderful quote: “It is good to feel lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is. You know that a place that feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.

Besides reaffirming our sense of belonging, these forced detours are always filled with treasures, if only we let ourselves be open to being able to see them. I have lost count of the times when I have found the most beautiful places, met the most amazing people, lived the most incredible moments, and discovered my most cherished possessions, more often after finding myself lost and surrendering to the moment, letting the flow of life carry me, and my intuitions guide me.

There is an undeniable sadness and anxiety when faced with uncertainty. Let’s be honest, who really takes complete pleasure in being at a point in time and space that seems to be disconnected from everything? A location that has no name, no clear direction, no obvious way out? Should I go this way? Or that way? What if the solutions are in the opposite direction? Am I making things worse? Am I walking towards a precipice or closer to home? The answers, as distant as they may seem, reside inside of us, inside our “inner fire”, that place made of energy which is connected to everything and everyone. It is that place that feeds our intuition, that whisper which only wants to protect us. My fears and doubts will often be the loudest and quickest to react, urging me to flee and find shelter. But in those moments where my sense of orientation disappears, the bearing to find my way through the heavy fog, the path that will take me back home, the clarity that will illuminate my world once again and lift away that opaque shroud, all appear when I surrender and open myself first. The key is to accept the predicament and understand that I have no power over the past but I do hold the keys to the future.

Meditate on the times in your life where you’ve lost yourself not to the events, but to your fears and doubts. In the future how can you make sure not to give in to these negative feelings? We all get lost from time to time, it is an inevitable part of life. But whether these moments make us grow spiritually, happier, wiser, and richer, is within our control.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


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Nature Meditation – ALONE ISN’T LONELY

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No man (or woman) should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself (herself) depending solely on himself (herself) and thereby learning his (her) true and hidden strength.” Jack Kerouac

My childhood memories are vague and distant, like glimpses of a movie played behind a smoke screen. When I look at photos from my past, my brain is able to recognize what they represent; it recognizes the places where they were taken, it recognizes the people it sees. But beyond that, the images seem strange, disconnected, and impersonal. I can’t seem to be able to attach a feeling that ties me to that moment; I look at my younger self captured in a picture, a place in time that I can confirm and remember, but I have no emotional memory of being there. I want to remember the specifics, but for some reason, my past has become a timeline divided in themes, periods defined by an emotion that summarizes those particular years, thousands of memories put together, merged into a single block and stamped with a single word, an emotion that overrides all the others. Of those themes, the emotion that stands out is loneliness.

My life was for a very long time filled with a feeling of loneliness. For decades, I didn’t know where I belonged. My parents moved a lot. By the age of 12, I had already moved 10 times. With every move, I had to leave behind whatever world I had been able to create with the limited time that I had been given, and focus on recreating a sense of belonging to wherever I was then finding myself. Houses changed; friendships vanished as quickly as they were born; cities became backdrops for momentary plays. While the world around me was in constant motion, sweeping away any hint of foundation that I was trying to build for myself, one place remained constant and offered me salvation, peace, and a purpose ⎯ nature. Everywhere we moved, there was always a local park, a forest where I could roam and get lost; trees I could climb, creeks I could explore, dirt I could dig in. That loneliness that dominated my world was nowhere to be found the minute I stepped into the wilderness. There ⎯ in this world of silence ⎯ I found solace. I was alone but I was connected; I felt part of something that was bigger than me. Within that silence, I found comfort; within those trees, I found a tribe that listened; within nature I found the family I was looking for, the structure of values and insights that would teach me about life, about what it is to be human, and what is like to live on this planet.  That deep connectedness has never left me since, I carry it with me everywhere I go, where ever I find myself, whether I am alone or not.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Gandhi

The irony of our time is that despite being constantly connected and surrounded, actually never really being “alone”, there is a deep loneliness that permeates our lives. It is a loneliness that is overshadowed by pride; a pride that isolates us and infringes on our need to deeply connect; a pride that is based on the fear of facing our inner silence and solitude; a vulnerable and intimate place where the beauty of being human is revealed.

Face the silenceembrace your solitudecelebrate your vulnerabilityconnect with the beyond (whatever that may be for you), and find the lightwithin and around you.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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Patagonian Winter. Taken in the Province of Santa Cruz in Argentina. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

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NATURE RETREAT

Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 26/27/28 – 12 places left!

RESERVE NOW

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NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

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HALLOWEEN SALE!

Several prints are currently exhibited at CIBO, in Sausalito, California. For anyone who walks into CIBOand emails the password “Pumpkin”, standing in front of their print of choice, will receive a 20% discount.

And don’t forget to taste their coffee!!! It is a MUST!

BUY NOW

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Nature Meditation – INNER FIRE

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“When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.” Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780-1866)

I am sitting in front of a campfire, staring. My eyes are locked onto an invisible place just above the burning logs. My mind is lost with wonder, mesmerized by this magical display of nature. Of all the Fundamental Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water), Fire is the only one that has the power to molecularly transform the nature of things. It is the only one that doesn’t exist unless it is created. It is the only one that consumes so that it can live. Its benefits emerge only when it is controlled and contained. Left to its own devices, it grows, spreads, ravages, and consumes. It is a power that can bring lost ones back to safety yet it can turn to ashes the biggest of castles. Since the beginning of time, its flames have inspired and terrified, cleansed and scorched, built and destroyed. It is easy to understand why in Hindu mythology, the the God of Fire, Agni, represents the essential energy of life in the universe.

And this essential energy is within ourselves too – our Inner Fire.

The People of Tibet believe that Tummo (translation for inner fire) truly exist and can be controlled through a breathing meditation – a practice that increases and manipulates the body’s temperature. That fire is said to live within, below the navel chakra. A fact that even our science-based culture recognizes daily without always realizing it. The expression “Fire in the Belly” is more than having ambition, stamina, vigor, and passion, it is that primal energy that fuels everything. By connecting with our Tummo, by meditating on our Inner Fire, one can activate its power of transformation. As our flame grows and expands, it rises and spreads, reaching throughout all other chakras, cleansing our body from all energy blockages, warming our hearts and bringing along love and compassion. But as with the element of Fire, our Inner Fire demands balance and control. Too much Fire within and we are over reaching, if it is always on, our body dries up and our mind burns away. If we don’t have enough then we lack the desire to move, live and stand up for our beliefs.

How is your Inner Fire? Is it flowing? Raging? Dormant? Is it leading you to safety or burning your castle? Is it inspiring you or terrifying you? Is it cleansing you or scorching you? Building or destroying? Take a moment to STOP BREATHE RELAX and LISTEN to your Tummo, what is it telling you?


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%
A beautiful triptych from the new FLAMES series, created while at SUMMIT Powder Mountain. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

BUY NOW

NATURE RETREAT

Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 19/20/21 – 12 places left!

RESERVE NOW

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NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

Normal cover


HALLOWEEN SALE!

Several prints are currently exhibited at CIBO, in Sausalito, California. For anyone who walks into CIBOand emails the password “Pumpkin”, standing in front of their print of choice, will receive a 20% discount.

And don’t forget to taste there coffee!!! It is a MUST!

BUY NOW

Cibo

Magical Sea Cave

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Part of upcoming story written for SIDETRACKED magazine

After five hours of smooth paddling, a couple of dolphin pod encounters, and several mobula ray breaches, I rounded the north end of the island and started looking for my next campsite. San Marcos, an island in the Gulf of California, off the Baja Peninsula’s Santa Rosalia, has plenty of beaches where I could land. Inexplicably, as I was paddling toward a desirable looking spot, my attention was pulled to the end of a giant rock formation where a tiny beach on the side of it was partially exposed. At first glance, there was no justification for me to explore this beach. It didn’t even look big enough for a camping site, but a little voice inside my head kept whispering that it might be something special. As a longtime solo traveler, I have learned the value of gut feelings, about the importance of listening to the intangible, about believing and accepting the signs when the world speaks to us. So without much mental resistance, I shifted my weight and edged the kayak on its right side, stroked hard with my paddle, and turned left. Little did I know what treasures lay just ahead.

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Gliding around the edge of the rock formation, my first glimpse of the hidden beauty behind it came at the very last moment when the tip of my kayak reached the beach. The back side of the rock revealed itself to be a remnant of a sea cave, a sort of half-shell amphitheater that faced the beach and sheltered a tiny lagoon filled with water that flowed in from the sea through a small porthole in the back of the cave. At the center of the lagoon, where the half-cave’s roof gave way to the sky, was a boulder surrounded by water at high tide. The boulder acted as a focal point, collecting the energy that seemed to bounce from every angle of the cave’s walls. The force was seriously strong in this place. No wonder it had called me, pulling me away from my trajectory. This cave was like a magical giant planet with its own gravity. Perhaps a portal to another world? My stay there would lead me to believe that yes, indeed it was.

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After setting up camp on the beach, I put on my fins, snorkel, and wetsuit, grabbed my spear gun, and went fishing. Stepping into the water, I walked knee-deep into the lagoon toward the porthole. I took a deep breath, dove, swam out into the sea, and entered a world full of fish and wonders. An hour later I was back with my meal, a large smile on my face and a blue mind of enchantment that comes from being in the water. I was at peace after spending so many minutes holding my breath, 20 feet deep, mesmerised by the life swimming around me.

At day’s end, the wind was nowhere to be seen or heard. Everything was quiet; even the birds that had so far chirped without a break. The gulls stood in silence, each balancing on one leg on the rock and on the beach. A deep stillness permeated the air, as if time had slowed down. It was similar to the excited feeling I get before something grand happens, in that precise moment before the show starts, before the curtain rises, when everybody stops and directs their attention to the stage, waiting for the magic to appear. I felt my attention drawn to the middle of the cave, onto that boulder surrounded by water. I walked to a rock near the beach, faced the cave, and sat. Taking a deep breath, I felt my energy spreading outward. Interestingly, it didn’t feel like my energy was escaping, but instead stretching far and connecting with every other molecule that surrounded me—the rocks, the animals, the water, the wind. Closing my eyes I could see the giant web that was being formed. It reminded me of the neural patterns in the brain, the filaments that stretch in all directions, connecting, transmitting, unifying, constantly evolving.

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As if on cue, two things happened at once. The small cave entrance that squeezed between the water and the rock lit up with a burning glow like a mini-sun, radiating with such intensity that for a second I had to cover my eyes. The sunbeam was in perfect alignment with the arched porthole, and the water acted as a giant reflector, focusing the light into one small opening and blasting it to the other side. It was as if I was
witnessing the birth of a star.

The tide had reached a height where even a little ripple, the tiniest of movements on the surface of the water, pushed enough air through the cave’s hollows to create a gurgling sound that felt like an ancient language. The spirit of the cave was talking. This elder of ancient times had awakened and was sharing its wisdom. It was a privilege being here amongst the birds, the rocks, the water, and the wind. But unlike the powerful things that surrounded me, I was only a guest, a passerby, someone whose species has disconnected from the magical thousands of years ago and has since stopped seeing what is now un-seeable.

At this moment, in this place, I was the one who felt primitive, simple, lacking depth and unable to understand the grandeur and connectivity of the universe, of life. Staring at the water, listening to the cave, feeling the silence around and in me, I realised that it was our species that needed saving, not the other way around. My eyes were not seeing a world where humans were the chosen ones and stewards of this planet, but rather that we were the ones who needed to be brought back home, from the darkness, returned to a world of love, compassion, and humility.

The serenity of this place convinced me to extend my stay—certainly not one of my hardest decisions. For another day I fished, read, relaxed, listened, and soaked in the energy that was offered to me. The following morning, after packing and tucking myself into the kayak, I took one last moment to reflect. Dipping my hands in the water and closing my eyes, I thanked the cave and promised to return—but I would bring others so they too can know its marvels.

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SPRING NEWSLETTER

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“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir

Spring – the time of the year that is synonymous with new beginnings. Trees that have been dormant for months start coming to life. Minute by minute, the sun stays longer every day, finally pushing our dark evenings away. The air is getting warmer. This warmth is fueling this increase of energy we feel everywhere. The other animals sense it too. Our bodies are becoming more active, itching to return to the open landscapes. It is the call of the Wild, reaching out into the depth of our unconscious and connecting with the ancestral bond we share with the planet and with the natural world.


FUJIFILM

I am extremely proud and honored to announce that I am now a FUJIFILM X-Photographer. It is not everyday that one of the most recognized photography brands in the world decides to include you in its team of “Expert Photographers“.

I have been using the X-T1 and you can read below my testimonial.

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“The XT-1 is my new weapon of choice. It is everything I need and much more. Having used DSLR for many years, I had always felt that going more compact and opting for the benefits of mirrorless cameras meant loosing in quality and capacities. But those days are now gone and over with. The XT-1 is the future, my future! It gives me the power of technology in a camera I have no worries taking it along with me either while kayaking the burning hot Sea of Cortez, backpacking the wet and windy spring days of British Columbia, or biking the cold winter wilderness of Alaska.

Also really important, I never feel physically disconnected from the process of photography – which is something that is happening today because of technology – you gain new advantages while loosing connection. The XT-1 is the opposite. Its simplicity and its tactile controls connect me with my art, with the photos. I feel in control, not controlled and dependent of a machine.

The XT-1 is a no fuss, extremely powerful, weatherproof and compact wonder! And it is the only one I carry with me.”


WILD FOUNDATION

The WILD Foundation has been at the heart of the global wilderness community for over 40 years. It is the founder and steward of the World Wilderness Congress, the world’s longest–running, public, international conservation program.

Starting in June, I will be joining their Marine Wilderness 10+10 Project as LEAD WILD EXPLORER. Together, and with other organizations, we will work at preserving the wilderness values of a targeted selection of regions around the world.

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“Daniel brings to us the wild tales of the ocean we need to help a variety of stakeholders envision the values they commonly hold – ‘marine wilderness,’ which benefits communities, fishers, recreationists, tourists and all of us.” Julie Anton Randall, Vice President for Programs, The WILD Foundation


W.I.L.D. SCHOLARSHIP

W.I.L.D. (Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discovery) believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology. Knowing the importance of today’s youth in shaping the future, W.I.L.D.‘s initial effort is targeted on giving youth, especially under-privileged teens, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives through wilderness immersion camps.

Originally, the funds raised during the first  W.I.L.D. campaign were just enough to support only one teenager but thanks to N.O.L.S., their scholarship program decided to get involved and matched the donations. Making it possible to fund 2 teenagers instead of one.

So it is with great pleasure that I am announcing the first 2 W.I.L.D. Scholarship recipients, Gavrielle Thompson and Kedyn Sierra.

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Both Gavrielle and Kedyn have been previously involved with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions). Their applications clearly illustrated their passion for the outdoors and their deep desire to experience and learn from being immersed in nature. As part of their adventure, they will be documenting their journey and sharing their discoveries.  Look forward to their report later this fall.

For their month-long sea kayaking wilderness camp in Alaska this summer, Kedyn & Gavrielle will be geared up by Sierra Designs,  Kokatat,  Mountain KhakisMiirIcebreaker,  Aquapac,  Deuters,  Confluence Outdoors,  Rocky S2V,  Guayaki,  Optimus Stove and Smith Optics.

A huge thank you to everyone for your support!


BAJA CALIFORNIA

I recently spent 2 months in Baja California where I paddled around Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Tortuga. While Santo is a famous island close to LaPaz featuring incredible landscapes, Tortuga is a remote volcanic crater 20 miles offshore only visited by fishermen. You can see the recap of the two expeditions on PINTEREST and the MINUTE OF NATURE videos filmed on location here.

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Whale shark outside LaPaz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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The Tortuga Rattlesnake, a species endemic to the island.

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Campsite on Isla Espiritu Santo


STORIES

From the blog – 3 new stories were added: an encounter with a black bear, the insights received during a paddle in Baja, and the challenges explorers face when they come back home after traveling for so long.

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THE POWER OF THE VOICE

The black bear stood tall, mounted on his hind legs, only 15 feet away from me. Its nose was covered with long grey hair, some remnants of a deer carcass it was just feeding on. Its front paw claws hung in front of him while the ones on its back paws were firmly dug into the ground… READ MORE

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SOLITUDE + SILENCE = CLARITY & PERSPECTIVE

The beach was made of this creamy white sand – powdery granules made of crushed shells and limestone eroded over millions of years, moved with the tides, currents and wind, slowly and gradually pushed back against the shore, grain after grain, and now forming the soft cushion I was resting on… READ MORE

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A CHALLENGING RETURN

The road is my home. It is where I feel alive. It is where I breathe and nourish myself. The road feeds my craving for discovery. It calms my restless mind hungry for new experiences. My dreams are blank canvases that paint themselves as I move forward towards new destinations. I am like a mountain river that needs the movement to fill itself with air… READ MORE


PUBLIC SPEAKING

The end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 was marked by several public speaking engagements with presentations at REI stores throughout the Bay Area, at the San Francisco State University and at the well known Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Dates and locations for future events will be announced this summer as the schedule for Fall 2015 / Winter 2016 is being confirmed.

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FEEL THE WILD – BOOK

My new book – FEEL THE WILD, is in the works and the first Draft Edition will be ready for the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show this August. With close to 200 pages, the book is a collection of stunning photography, inspirational stories and new material.

If you want to be notified when the book becomes available please click this link

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ONLINE STORE

We are getting closer to the online store being operational. Products from Icebreaker, Miir and Mountain Khakis will feature the FEEL THE WILD & THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT branding. Products so far being offered will include: Coffee Mugs, Merino t-shirts, Neoskin journals, Growlers, Tote Bags, Insulated bottles, Water bottles, Greeting cards and prints.

If you want to be notified when the merchandise becomes available please click this link

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MEDIA

See below a recap of some of the major media coverage recently published. I would like to thank the publications and magazines for believing that my work is newsworthy. Click on the image to access the article.

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WHAT’S NEXT

Plans are always the most complicated and challenging reality I have to face, as they constantly change. Right now, I am heading to British Columbia where I plan on biking and padding the Canadian Wilderness for the next 2 months. With nothing set in stone, the best way to keep in touch with my adventures is through my social media – which you can access by clicking the icons below. If you hear that I am passing through your neighborhood, don’t hesitate and reach out, it is always a pleasure to connect and share stories.

WebsiteWebsiteFacebookFacebookTwitterTwitterInstagramInstagramPinterestPinterestLinkedInLinkedInGoogle PlusGoogle Plus

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May the Wilderness Be with You.

STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN

S2 = C + P

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The beach was made of this creamy white sand – powdery granules made of crushed shells and limestone eroded over millions of years, moved with the tides, currents and wind, slowly and gradually pushed back against the shore, grain after grain, and now forming the soft cushion I was resting on. This quiet little place located on the westerly side of Isla Espiritu Santo, just outside La Paz in Baja California Sur, was tuck between two long cliffs made of a multitude of volcanic ash layers, a product of the Miocene Era. Just like a pair of blinkers on a horse, these mineral fingers that advanced way far into the water, protecting this tiny oasis, were also preventing me from seeing the vastness of the Gulf of California, restricting my sight of this interior sea to just a sliver of emerald water. But that didn’t really matter since darkness had fallen and now my gaze was looking up, laying on my back, my hands behind my head, my eyes lost in an ocean of stars.

I was contemplating a world that was beyond my comprehension, a reality that was bigger than me, a universe that hold more secrets and treasures than I could fathom, and this reigning serenity was the perfect way to end the day.

The morning started with a gentle breeze, as the sun peeking above the horizon began its ascent into a cloudless blue sky, flooding the air with warmth, fueling invisible particles of oxygen and nitrogen with heat, causing them to move and swirl faster and generating the wind that would later slow my progress. This transition from darkness to light, this dance between the Sun and the Earth was affecting everything – the air, the ocean, the animals, the plants, and myself.

This planetary movement was intricately linked to the complex biological process that was happening in my body as my eyes were opening after longs hours of sleep, a ritual that has been fine tuning itself for thousands and thousands of year. The level of melatonin in my blood was decreasing as the presence of cortisol was going up. It is believed that this event is linked to the hippocampus in preparation of facing stress during the day. My lungs were expanding with more vigor, flooding my blood cells with oxygen, waking my muscles back from their comatose state. The same muscles that would later push against the wind.

Every part of my body was awakening. Slowly, I was becoming more in tuned with my surroundings. My existence on this planet was connected to the Universe. These carbon atoms of which my body is made of were affected by a star millions of miles away, by the gravity of the moon above me and by the unknown forces that controlled the solar system. How is it possible that we believe that Life revolves around us?

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With every paddle stroke, my thoughts, my worries, my wishes, my struggles, my joys and my pains are stripped away, leaving me naked but with clarity and perspective.

After cooking breakfast, sipping yerba mate and packing the gear into the kayak, I walked into the sea pulling the kayak off the beach. With a quick jump, I maneuvered myself into the cockpit and started to paddle. Looking back one last time, I offered my goodbyes to an imaginary host – a customary practice I do every time I arrive and depart a location, paying my respects to a place which doesn’t belong to me, honoring the hospitality I humbly received. In the same manner that I always ask the Ocean permission every time I travel its realm. It is not a religious belief but rather the understanding that my future is in the hands of nature.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau

The clear blue sky had become swamped with hundreds of white smudges, much like the freckles on a summer skin. The peaceful clarity of the morning had left and in its place was some kind of an orchestrated chaos. The pelicans were flying everywhere and diving on bait fish while being harassed by sea gulls that trailed them like leeches. Rays of all different sizes jumped out of the water mysteriously, giving me the impression that the sea had turned into a giant Whack-A-Mole game. Frigate birds high in the sky keeping an eye on passing-by blue-foot boobies, waiting to steal their catch. Turkey vultures gliding effortlessly counting the days for the nearby carcass of a sea lion to reach its perfect decomposition state. Bouncing waves from the cliff with the current running around the island, plus the waves coming from the open sea and the head winds were creating this tempestuous surface that made me feel like I was sitting on a mechanic bull. And that was only what I could see. I am sure that if I poked my head underwater, I would discover another world of madness. All this energy, these whirlwinds of life, this pool of bouncing atoms, was creating heat, moving up and feeding what were now giants puffy monoliths.

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength” Jack Kerouac

The tent was up and the dinner was cooked. Pelicans were still feeding, picking the last of the survivors of what had been earlier in the day a bait ball of probably in the tens of thousands. But the way they flew and dove looked heavy and lazy. Even the sea gulls had giving up pestering them, instead floating on the water or resting on a rock nearby screaming like young spoiled brats – Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! I was reminded for a second of what we must look like after a Thanksgiving dinner, stuffed to the ears and still reaching out across the table grabbing one last piece and managing swallowing it down only with a deep breath. Who said we were different from the animals?

After its daily journey across sky, the sun was about to disappear behind the horizon, painting the sky with deep hues of orange, pink, red, and purple. Had there been no clouds but a perfect empty sky, the sunset would have still been enjoyable but would have lacked panache. It would have been simple, humdrum, kind of stale and monotonous. There wouldn’t have been any deep hues and many colors. There would have been only a general fading of the light accompanied by a possible green flash and some orange leftover at the end. It was all this energy, this chaos, this frenzy of everything this world is made of, that this sunset was feeding on and giving it back to everyone to see in the most spectacular show ever produced. Beauty was literally rising from the depths of madness.

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The wind was barely rolling over the water and the round fluffy silhouettes up above were moving away. The night was taking hold and bringing along with it its posses. Venus, Jupiter, Vega, Arcturus, and Regulas were the first to show up but give another hour and the room would be filled with billions of others. As much as this place was buzzing with noise just hours earlier, now silence was of order.

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky… a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe.” Victor Hugo

Laying down on that beach, I let the world sink in. I let my thoughts disappear. I let the silence take over. I am staring at this night sky filled with stars and know that, like earlier, looking out and seeing only a sliver of the sea, I am seeing only a tiny fragment of what we call the Universe. There is so much out there. How can we think so much of ourselves in front of such inexplicable beauty and mystery? Why are we so insecure about our evolutionary identity? Why can’t we find comfort in the knowledge and humility that there are things that are bigger than us? Having no meaning in the big scheme of the universe doesn’t mean we have no meaning in life. It just means that ultimately, we matter for a moment, for the ones around us. And that is important. But in the end, the atoms that we borrowed are returned. And the only things left are memories and legacies. Even those, unfortunately for the ones who have past but to the benefit of the ones who will come, will fade away with time.

The cacophony of life is necessary. The buzzing and frenzy of our culture has a creative purpose and we shouldn’t underestimate its value but more importantly, clarity and perspective happen only when silence and solitude are present. In our culture of multi-tasking, every hour filled with endless distractions and finding ourselves relentlessly connected to our technology devices, these alone times are becoming rarer and rarer leaving us with an incapacity to delve and think deeper, stuck in the shallowness found within 140 characters. More than ever, we must find the time to STOP. BREATHE. RELAX & LISTEN.

S2 = C + P (Solitude & Silence = Clarity + Perspective)

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Gandhi

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