Of Metaphysics and Landscapes (Part 3) - Breathing Space

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > Of Metaphysics and Landscapes (Part 3) - Breathing Space
30/06/2014 - 12:18


In going out to explore the wild places we have left, we can spend time alone with our thoughts and explore the metaphysical essence of nature and contemplate what it actually is that connects us to such places. I start by sharing a thought-provoking piece of prose:






“Stand still.

The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.

Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand Still.

The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”


by David Wagoner





It is a modern interpretation of a teaching-story of the Northwest Native American tradition that would be told by an elder to a younger member of the tribe who asked the question, "What do I do when I am lost in the forest?” It encouraged in them the sense of quiet contemplation, to learn for their own good that the forest could be a friend rather than a foe. The bark from birch tree, for example, could provide the means to make a container for water, be a source of natural aspirin or become the outer ‘skin’ of a canoe. Bushcraft such as that allows the visitor to the sylvan wild, the chance to be part of the place, to be confident and to grow in their knowledge of the natural world.




'Huddle' - transient side-light falling on the Dart valley, momentarily illuminates a huddle of birches below Leigh Tor on an autumn day.




That sense of being ‘here’ is one of soulful awareness; it is maybe the essence of human beings unfolding … allowing themselves to become part of something vaster, more ancient than their own temporal existence. These wild spaces have the power to enlighten us, to help us find our soul. There may be the sound of a brook gurgling over rocks amongst the ferns, or the rush of the breeze through the tree canopy of the woods – yet it differs from the noise of our everyday lives in the modern world, it becomes more of a pleasant hum. We can tune into this entire multi-sensory atmosphere of the wild - and feel peace and with time, a sense of connection to the ‘here’. It may not require us to sit or kneel in the manner of a Buddhist (though there is much to be recommended for trying that in a wild place once at least!)


What makes the 'here' real and tangible though?


Every subatomic particle that exists now is part of what was made from the moment of the 'big bang; yes, many things have changed form through process of physical chemistry - geologically, through biological evolution and our own experiments yet all that ever was came from the cosmos.


Each atom that exists throughout the entire universe is composed of 99.999999999999% empty space.






However, the process of change becomes even more fascinating because most atoms' electron shells are not entirely full. When two atoms come together and have empty spaces in their electron shells, they will share electrons to fill in the spaces in both of their shells. These neighbouring electrons really do go back and forth between atoms and the activity is fast. Once both atoms' outer shells are full, they return to their usual repulsive behaviour. Thus automatically we never really touch anything; instead we are separated by an electrostatic force.



 In addition to sharing the electrons physically and feeling the electrostatic force, we share the expanse of space around us - and every corner of the universe. Therefore perhaps… maybe, when we sit by that woodland stream, in the contemplative atmosphere of a wild place it is the empty space that is the one one thing that connects us to the beauty of everything else in and around us. We can use our senses and embrace what we can see, smell, hear and touch in these woods.



'Beyond the brink' - the plunging waters of the side channel of the twin falls of the Upper Colly Brook, on an autumn afternoon.




“Upon the brink of the wild stream
He stood, and dreamt a mighty dream.”

(Alexander Pushkin )








*'Of Metaphysics and Landscapes' Part One can be read here

**'Of Metaphysics and Landscapes' Part Two can be read here






14/07/2014 - 09:39
Beautiful introduction to what is all around us, if only we make the time and take the opportunity to truly SEE! Very inspirational and thought-provoking

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