The Three Voices Of Nature

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To Know Living Things

“The words of our grandmothers and grandfathers have taught us Respect for the Web of Life and the interdependence of all things in the Universe. The stories passed down through oral traditions remind us that we are all connected.” – Ancient Native American saying

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

Ironwood ForestI spend a lot of time contemplating Nature as I write in my journal, capture photographic images, or simply meditate without a pen or a camera. My goal is to discern my perceptions of what I sense in Nature. I find that the process of encountering and recording natural patterns requires me to move several times between my aesthetic right brain self, my spiritual Being, and my analytical left brain. For example, when I encounter a beautiful dawn, I first respond to the golden beauty of that first light as it casts its glow upon the cactus and mountains that surround me. I’m then struck by the wholeness of the experience as I wonder about the numerous interrelationships within the scene and how I fit. I am a part of all of this. And then I ask: “How does this happen?” as I capture the image in my camera’s memory. Back and forth, I move from my aesthetic perception, on to the center of my soul, and then to my camera and my questions.

Is this perception aesthetic? Is it spiritual? Or, is it science? Clearly to me, it is all three. These three modes of perception I call the “Voices of Nature”. One of my respondents chooses to call them “points of view”. Whatever you choose to call them, these voices are inseparable and interrelated in their grand chorus.

Nature’s aesthetic voice communicates with our perceptual self – our physical senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. It is beauty, form, and the dynamics of Nature’s patterns. Nature’s spiritual voice expresses the present moment as it communicates timelessness, sanctity and interrelationships amongst all things. Nature’s logical voice communicates tangible facts about Nature’s physical forces and how they come together to create form and process. It is our conceptual self that labels things and comes to logical conclusions.

Each voice offers its own unique perspective as one seeks to engage Nature. Nature’s aesthetic, spiritual, and analytical voices, the three cultures of art, the soul, and science, are essential partners. In the synergy of this partnership of the human mind and soul, one can behold Nature and her patterns in ways that none of these cultures could do alone. These voices come together in a harmony that forms and expands the senses. The human response is the excitement of exploration, adventure, and discovery.


Why Do I Write These Essays?

Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself, or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.


If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.


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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

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