Nature Meditation – SHADOWS

WIP_030609_Dreaming

“Life itself is but the shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living.” Thomas Browne

There is only a sliver of the sun peaking above the crest of the mountains. For the past thirty minutes, I have been watching this disc of light descend, slowly closing the gap between itself and the horizon. Within the next seconds this star that illuminates the world around me will disappear, taking along with it, the light that dominates and structures our lives. Colors will fade; what used to be a dynamic world of hues will turn into a monotone landscape. I wonder if perhaps the reason why the sky becomes so colorful during sunrises and sunsets is because it shows the migration of Colors. These particles of light fly with the sun and bond themselves to anything that vibrates at the same frequency. In the morning, they precede the sun and announce the arrival of the day. In the evening, they are the last ones to leave, making us long for their return.

Behind me, my shadow grows. Seemingly alive, this imprint of myself, this silhouette of my existence, expands, reaches across the air, and spreads over the land. While my physical presence is trapped within the confines of this body, it is its  shadow that goes beyond and connects with the world. With the sun now gone, my shadow merges with all the others and together, immersed within Earth’s shady embrace, we become one.

The light is powerful. It gives us the ability to see and define our environment. It warms and protects us. It allows us to control our path. With it, we can plan, analyze, create, and build. Because of it, we can breathe and feed ourselves. But light also carries a burden. It isolates. It categorizes. Instead of unleashing our consciousness, it buries it under an sea of judgments. We might be living on a planet that is part of a vast Universe, but during the day, when we look up to the sky, we see none of our connection to the Beyond. What we see is a blanket of fluffiness, a blue cover that appeases and hypnotizes us. What we don’t see is our place amongst the stars. What we don’t see is the Truth.

It is only when stepping into the shadow of the Earth that the Universe is revealed.

In the shadows we might loose our sight, but we gain more intimate senses. Our hearing opens up. Our smell tunes in. Control gives way to intuition. Instead of going outward, we must journey inward. Instead of reaching out and introducing ourselves, we must become vulnerable and let the world in. In the darkness we process, contemplate, and dream; in the absence of light, all and everything is equal.

Today, technology is the light – our lives are defined by it. While there are amazing benefits to its capacity, we must remind ourselves that the beauty of our species and the Truth about Life does not reside under a microscope or laid out in an algorithm. Lovecompassionfriendship, and community live in this place called Intimacy; in the shadow of technology.

We must ask ourselves: do we want to live in an emotional arid world much like a desert where the sun destroys everything and where shade offers you life and a sanctuary? Or would we rather choose a world that nurtures both intimacy and technology, each valued and protected, not one at the expense of the other?

As the year ends, lets reflect on our own intimacy and what lies beyond ourselves. Do we seek the light and let technology govern our lives because we are afraid of facing our humanity? If the stars are only revealed at night, if the Milky Way can only be seen in the absence of light, how much of ourselves are we missing by avoiding our own shadows?

I wish you Merry Christmas, a wonderful Holiday season, and an amazing New Year.

Find your inner fire, don’t be afraid of being alone, get lost, see what you want to see, exist through others, roar like a lion, breathe the world in, find your balance, celebrate life, and be vulnerable.

I will see you back in 2016.

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


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 

EYES IN THE DARK
ARGENTINA
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

Normal cover

FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

$9.75

190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

iphone-screenSmart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

desktop-screenDesktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$9.75

A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

S2 = C + P

_DSF5104

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?

DCIM102GOPRO

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.

_DSF5621

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

_DSF5083

Human’s Relationship with Nature

In the 1700’s, a famous astronomer from France, named Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, started to name his discoveries, new constellations, with man made objects. He would look into his telescope, point it up towards the stars, see a pattern then give it a name. He named one constellation Horologium Oscillitorium, honoring Christiaan Huygens and his invention, the pendulum. He named another one Microscopium, after the microscope. In fact, from the 70 constellations known at that time, Lacaille added over 14 new ones, all named after instruments. Little did he know that his decision to imprint the sky with Man’s creation not only broke thousands of years of astronomy tradition, but reaffirmed a behavior that had been working its way into the core of our society for the past several thousands of years – Nature was no more, and Man ruled every element and realm.

Allow me to illustrate how we have become so disconnected from Nature, the effects that it has created on our society, the gains it gave us, the damages it inflicted, and why, despite obvious future complications, we find ourselves challenged over what to do. We have made an habit to over analyze, saturate our theories with numbers, and spit out new solutions to only realize that their application was impossible and their success unattainable. In fact, the explanation lies in our history, how we are as a species, and why, what seems like a simple change, will demand from us, a drastic change in our values and in the way we live. Do not worry, I am not here to tell you that the world is doomed, that we have five years to fix it, otherwise life will cease to exist. Quite the contrary, we are masters at adapting and surviving and hopefully, by the end of the evening, you will have a better understanding of our current situation and what can be done to remedy this unhealthy modern paradigm.

On a small note, I would like to point out that I have just used the word “remedy” to introduce my rhetoric. The definition of “remedy” is the following: a medicine or a treatment for a disease or an injury. It is a means of counteracting or eliminating something undesirable. It comes from Latin remedium: “RE” meaning ‘back’, also expressing intensive force, and “MEDERI” which means ‘heal.’ Humans are not a bad species. We do not need to condemn ourselves with guilt, despair over how we have been so irresponsible. Who we are today, what we are doing and what we have been doing is quite logical and predictable. Just like a child who was told not to play with fire, and did, then got burned, now we need to tend the wound so that it can heal properly.

One of the first places we need to look into, is mythology, and more precisely, the history of our mythology. Now bare with me, we will not delve into a study of myths, gods and religions. I am simply going to outline certain key elements that pertain to our relationship with nature. Now, according to Mercia Eliade, in his book Myth and Reality, one of the foremost functions of myth is to establish models of behavior. Joseph Campbell, in his book “The Power of Myth” described them as having four basic functions: the Mystical Function–experiencing the awe of the universe; the Cosmological Function–explaining the shape of the universe; the Sociological Function–supporting and validating a certain social order; and finally, the Pedagogical Function– explaining how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances. In other words, whether be religious or folkloric, these stories passed over time helped us shape our system of beliefs and values.

The place of Nature in mythology is extremely interesting. At the beginning, humans were afraid of it. The early civilizations revered the elements – fire, wind, water, earth, and thought than certain animals were their elected representatives. We refer to this practice as animism, where plants, animals, inanimate objects and natural phenomena possessed a soul. The divine was illustrated in the world around them and humans saw themselves at the mercy of it. Nature was bigger than them. In the Mapuche mythology, a group of indians in the region of Patagonia in South America, the Ngen were spirits that managed, and governed nature. The Ngen were created by the Pu-am, the representation of the universal soul, who wanted the Ngen to assure the order and the laws of admapu , the rules of the Mapuche tradition. If a Mapuche needed to obtain something from nature, he was to first respect the spirit then give an offering.

Then came the gods. The earliest ones were still depicted in nature. Per instance, in the Aztec mythology, Tepeyollotli, the “heart of the mountains”, was the god of earthquakes, echoes and jaguars. He was portrayed as a jaguar leaping towards the sun. In the Egyptian mythology, Aker, one of the earliest gods worshipped, was the deification of the horizon. He was originally illustrated as a narrow strip of land, representing the horizon, with heads on either side, facing away from one another, a symbol of borders. Since the sun reaches its peak in the zodiac of Leo, these heads were usually those of lions.

As humans moved away from believing in the power of the elements, and seeing the divine in nature, a most fascinating event happened. They started to created entities, gods and goddesses, with human forms. These deities, with arms, legs and faces like ours, were now in control of the elements, of the universe, of life, and of the earth – no more was Nature master of her own domain. Poseidon, a god from the Greek mythology, ruled the realm of the sea. A human form with a beard, riding a chariot carried by horses or hippocampus. Nature was now tamed by the human god, at the mercy of his whip, reduced to a simple means of transportation. In this picture, Egyptians have evidently moved away from symbolism. It shows Shu, the air god, a human form, supporting Nut, the sky goddess, another human form. Geb, the god of earth, at the bottom, showed in earlier records with a snake head, has now moved into a full human form. Two characters, with human bodies and animal heads are helping Shu. In this attempt to explain how the world works, humans are the divine, and animals, or nature, are reduced to mere helpers. Even in Hinduism, Prajapti, “lord of creatures”, a deity presiding over procreation and the protector of life is shown looking like a human.

Now some will tell me that these images are not to be taken literately. Everyone knowns that they are only figments of our imagination and not a true representation. But saying that would be diminishing the power that images have and the impact it has on the subconscious when repeated millions of times over hundreds and hundreds of years. Studies in communication and marketing have proven over and over the impact of repetition, whether being true or not.

There is one character, present in several mythologies who differs in its representation: Faunus, Roman god of the forests, plains and fields and Pan, Greek god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. There is also Cernunnos from the Celtic mythology. Although we known little of his significance, his depiction leaves no doubt on the point being made. Each is a variation of the Horned god. A entity half human, half animal. With horns or antlers, a beard, and often baring legs of a goat.The meaning of such mixture is left for debate, perhaps it was an attempt to unite the old divine, Nature, with the new one, humans. Nevertheless, one thing for sure, this creature, the gross character, this half human, half beast, became with time, the flagship for Man’s savageness, witchcraft and the image of the devil.

So, at the beginning, we had the divine in Nature, now the divinity is in humans, and Nature is under its control. What was to come was even worse – a total loss of respect and a quest to destroy it.

The last two thousand years have been dominated by the rise of monotheism, the belief in only one god. Today the three predominant monotheistic religions are judaism, christianity and islam. As you can see on this map, together they cover most of the world. Different in the their form and beliefs, their attitude towards Nature is the same. The planet is to serve Mankind, and humans are to serve God. Mankind’s goal is to rise from this imperfect world and join with God who lives above, in the heavens. Nature is either savage, evil, or in great need to be corrected. Its resources are like a giant bottomless bag in which we can serve ourselves indefinitely. By putting humans as the perfect creation, mankind was no longer limited by Nature. Quite the opposite. Being divine masters and immune of any consequences, we were free to do what we wanted and manipulated the planet to our wishes. This narrative has unfortunately been the driving force in our relationship with the planet for centuries.

By having dominion over nature, humans came to believe that they were also its protector, even its savior, if needed. It is no surprise when looking into the Old Testament and reading the story of Noa and his arch, saving every animal on the planet, that we find ourselves today believing that it is still our responsibility, once again, to save the earth. Although the rescue boat has changed into our total trust in technology, the thought is the same: we are separate from Nature, we know better than Nature, and only WE have the power to save it. If life is to subsist, it will only be because of us.

And the question arises, why should we save Nature when for thousands of years, everything about it has been looked upon with aversion, annoyance, as a symbol our own limitation, as the enemy. Our industrial era has excelled in claiming that the growth of mankind had to be made to the detriment of Nature. Still today, we believe we have to choose one over the other. Why should we start to re-consider the sacred in the elements and in the animals, when the idea of pervading life in the “un-human world”, has been considered “childish”, and typical of “cognitive underdevelopment”, by our most distinguished philosophers and men of sciences. Why should we regress and act like “primitives”, as some suggest? Why is it that living in the country, rather than in the cities, a place glamorized by the feats of human incredible ingenuity, is culturally seen as simplistic and filled with a lack of vision. Let me ask you a question. Would any of you give up the comfort of your modern day convenient life – with your computers, your cars, your access to any kinds of food anytime, and your gadgets, to save a forest or a fish, or a mammal that you most likely will never see in your life.

The answer lies in our choice of values. And here is where the topic becomes tricky. It has nothing to do with numbers, statistics or any graphs. Technically, we are absolutely capable of living in a world empty of any wilderness. Technically, we could have every crop, every chicken, every fruit, every vegetable, every tree grown inside in artificial indoor places. We can engineer pretty much anything. And what we can’t, we are working on it. In fact, we have become so good at it, that we now know we can act like gods. What before was only an assumption, or a wish, is now a fact and a reality. And consequently reinforces our belief that our technology is the only thing that can save the earth.

We love our numbers. We love our capacity to create equations. We brag about how we are able to explain everything in the world, in the universe with numbers. Between 354-430 AD, St. Augustine wrote “Numbers are the Universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth.” Today, we continue and say that the underlying element that connects everything are numbers – it is the universal language we claim. We fantasize about meeting other people from far away galaxies and communicating with them through numbers. In the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, Professor Karl Barnhardt, a nobel prize physicist, entertains a meaningful conversation with Klaatu, an alien, through formulas and statistics. On Tv, there is a show where a young genius mathematician helps the FBI solve cases that normally would be too hard for humans to figure out. And how does he do it? With equations. We throw numbers at everything and all the time. Our DNA has been reduced to a simple equation of letters. Our food has been dissected into numbers – the perfect diet consists of X calories, Y carbs, Z proteins, and well 0 sugar of course. We look at life and everything around us in a simple way: input and output. It is what separates us from the animals, it is what makes us so special, our ability to manipulate numbers. Therefore, it is only logical, that we look at Nature in the same way. And for the past 20 years, the scientific community, the environmental community and the politicians have been raging a war of numbers. Each side claim to have the right statistics. My numbers are better than yours. And yet nothing changes. Why, because of the place of Nature in our values.

On a side note, to illustrate how far our obsession of quantifying everything has gone, it seems that the planets in our system have now a dollar value. An astrophysicist of the University of California in Santa Cruz has been appraising the planets. With a complicated and special formula, he came to establish that the value of Venus was a penny – of Mars, $16,000, and of course of the Earth, 5 quadrillion! Talking to the Daily Mail in London, the scientist declared that: “The formula makes you realize just how precious Earth is and I hope it will help us as a society safeguard what we have”. Indeed, how obsessed we have become.

The idea that technology will save everything is a dear one to all of us. In our modern society, technology has moved to a god-like status with the power of total redemption – if only we could invent or come up with a solution that will fix all our problems, nullify all our undesirable deeds, and allow our consumption based culture to keep growing without much interference, this is our idea of heavens.

Let me ask you another question. Do you care about child labor in a place, half way across the world, where you will never set foot? Do you care about domestic violence in a house, somewhere on another continent, in a city you probably never knew existed? Do you care about a 10 year old virgin being sold for human trafficking. Why? If we look at the numbers, there are absolutely no incentives to care. And even more, there are no reasons why there should be any laws to prevent it. The reason there are laws, the reason we care, it is because of our values. It is because of what we believe to be good, and what we believe to be bad. And those values are the foundation of our system. Sadly, in our modern world, Nature has never been a concern or a priority. It has never been part of our values.

Now, why is it so hard to change? Because despite the fact that we love to believe we are a logical and smart species, that our brain is in charge of every decision, unfortunately, we are still governed by our physical needs and our emotions. Do you remember when I talked about the child who was told not to play with fire and still did? Well, we are physical beings. We need to experiment, we need to feel to understand. How do you think we have achieved so much. It was certainly not because we listened to all the people who said it was impossible. The trait in our behavior that pushes us to new limits is the same trait that makes us ignore all the warnings. We know that cigarettes will kill you. It is even written on the package. But each of us also know someone who has smoked two packs a day for the last fifty years and is in better shape than most of us. We know that we have overfished the oceans, but living in our convenient and global economy, it is hard to know what it means. My point is that as much as we want to sensitize the public and ourselves about the impact of our lifestyle on the environment and the decline of wild animals, we will need to acknowledge the dynamic of how we behave, how we think, and most importantly, how we get to change. As human beings, we need to physically feel to understand, we need to experience the consequences of our actions. That is why we have laws. Because we need limits. And for the last 50 years, we have become masters at breaking any limit encountered. We have transformed deserts into blooming plains. We have engineered crops to yield five times more. We have manipulated our cattle to grow faster. We are experts at making things bigger and faster. So how can we care or value something which we have had as our mission to defy? Why should we care for something we have believed to be an obstacle to our survival?

Some people in this world have never set foot in a forest. Some have never seen a night sky saturated with stars. Some have never seen the ocean rolling on a white sandy beach. With ecology classes gone from schools and sciences classes slowly disappearing, how can children be even taught about the dynamics of life? How can a child be aware, or even have a sense of what nature is if he has never even experienced it.

We have a choice to make. And let me say that, whether you choose one over the other, is not better or worse. Each has its pros and cons. Each has its advantages and consequences. Each is either good or bad, it just depends on where you stand. If we, as a society, choose to have a world dominated by technology and engineering, constantly improving at making things bigger and faster, at the detriment of Nature, than we just need to keep doing what we are doing. I am sure we will be able to find technological solutions to pretty much everything. But If we choose to have a world where the wilderness can still be experienced, where a father can take his son fish in the outdoors. Where a child can snorkel the bay and marvel at thousands of flickering moving colors, then we will have to change. Not because of numbers, not because we need to save the earth, not because climate is changing, but because we value Nature. Because we want Nature to be part of our world. Because we believe that our responsibility is to be humble, respectful and caring citizens of this planet, of this universe. Not to destroy it or act like its savior.

Dreams

WIP_030609_Dreaming

”For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh

It is dark. Absence of colors. Black and white tones. Various shades of grey.  Daylight illuminates the world around us, but the night transforms everything into a monotone landscape. For a moment, I wonder, if actually this seemingly boring reality has a purpose. My eyes pan from left to right trying to find a destination. With no where to go, they are left with one choice – go up. And right there, I understand. We spend our days looking in front of us. Always trying to see what is coming. But the night belongs to dreams and there is only place you can find them – in the Stars. I am curious if this is why in Asia they write from top to bottom, as if to insinuate that everything in life starts with a Dream. My eyes are fixed on this black tapestry made of an incalculable amount of white pinholes. My pupils dilate trying to capture the gargantuesque size of the Universe.  Millions of specks of light, so distant from our planet than their location is measured by the number of years light takes to travel from them to us. Their sight reminds me of the infinite amount of possibilities our world holds. That we still know so little about Life. My thoughts of boredom are long gone now as I lay down on the sand, gazing at a world that is only reachable through my imagination, through my dreams.

Man has been looking at the stars for thousands of years. It has been a source of inspiration, a source of mystery, a source of faith, and a tool for orientation. It also has been a way for us to understand our relationship with Nature, and with Life. Ever since the dawn of humanity, the night sky and Nature have walked hand in hand. Through the ages, from all cultures, every time we raised our eyes to the night sky, we saw animals and mythical creatures. The Zodiac, invented more than 10 000 years ago, depicts our symbiosis with the Universe through images of animals. For centuries, constellations were named after Nature.  It is only in the 1700’s, at the early age of the Industrial Revolution, that we changed our relationship with the Stars. Frenchman Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, famous astronomer, broke all the rules and named all of his discoveries with man-made objects.

In a world where more than half of the population lives in cities, we tend to forget there is even a night sky. Our eyes barely rise above the horizon. Our sense of vertical is developed mainly around tall buildings. And if we do one day find our way to look passed the top of those skyscrapers, we find an almost white canvas with a few sparse bright dots. 

A night sky is a limitless source of creativity and fascination. Like painting by numbers, you trace imaginary lines from star to star, giving life to worlds that know no boundaries. Shooting stars and northern lights, props for magical stories. As much as we learn about the Universe in museum or on television, there is nothing like experiencing the sight of a night sky saturated with stars, the Milky Way casting shadows on the ground – it is overwhelming, it is humbly.

We need never to forget to look up. We need never to forget to dream.