Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Photosynthesis and the Art of Sound


Ask any physicist.  There is no ‘thing’ at the root of life and livingness.

The tiniest subatomic particles are described as ‘interference patterns of various sound frequencies’ otherwise known as ‘nodes of resonance.’  This got me thinking.

In many non-westernized cultures, a commonly held, tacit belief is that sound precedes manifestation of all forms and energy.

That sound plays a catalyzing role in creation—that sound itself is a continuum spanning the macrocosm through a hierarchy of iterations that range to the infinitesimal microcosm…

Creation is a beginning.  Something becomes where there was previously non-existence. How can such concepts be made evident in this culture?  There seems to live within me a deep purpose for connecting that which does not have an obvious connection.


What has the power to create has the power to heal.  And so I began some weeks of reflection on the relationship of photosynthesis to sound. 


It came to me one night around 3AM as a profound question for which I initially discovered there is little commonality other than this: sound and sunlight are both wavelengths that impact life on earth.  The next morning I realized, that’s a fairly good start.

As a naturalist, I couldn’t help but then wonder—what of nature’s plant, atmospheric and oceanic worlds that quietly regulate our daily lives?  All create sound.  All aspects impact life on earth—not just human life.

So at November’s annual Daily Acts’ fundraiser breakfast, I discussed the relationship of photosynthesis to sound with friend, wise teacher and dear colleague, James Stark.  He reflected on this for a few moments, and in his inimitably savvy way, pointed out that outside of photosynthesis, the dawn chorus was a living example of the relationship between light from the sun that activates photosynthesis and…the activation of dialogue…of meaningful connection…of life.  The dawn chorus is nature’s daily symphony of news–what an exuberant way to start the day!

DawnChorusAnd so at a macro fundamental level, light activates sound which catalyzes life.  I’d love to extrapolate beyond this with more living examples.  Got an example?  Know someone who does?  Reach out and connect—I’d love to hear from you.

What an awesome way to see the roots of a new earth…

ClarkLittle-golden-waveLooking forward,



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Les choses qui s’écroulent sont une sorte d’épreuve, mais aussi une sorte de guérison.                                                               ~ Pema Chodron

(English translation)

Things that fall apart are a sort of test, but also a kind of healing.


Two weeks out from the Spring Equinox and the air is ripe with life.

Some mornings, I feel a thrill run through my body as the birds’ dawn chorus inspires me to rise and step outside to stretch in the cool morning air.

Spring has gently yet powerfully moved in, bringing new life and longer days of light.  And to think that a season as lovely as Spring is borne out of the cold, wet darkness of winter.

One of my favorite permaculture design principles is:

‘Use Edges + Value the Margins.’

Edges in nature are transition zones—the places where the composition of the terrain, flora and fauna change.   Edges and margins are also the places in our lives where real change occurs—where we are sometimes tested far beyond our comfort zones.

In nature, edges and margins can be where a forest gives way to a field of wildflowers, or where the firm footing of solid ground begins to soften and goosh, filling with dense ferns and mangroves before giving way to a riverbank.   It could simply be where crunchy beachfront sand yields to undulating clumps of sedge, tall grasses and scrubby brush.  It’s where life yields to life, and recombines to create new environments.   Each environment provides habitat for plants and animals that have adapted over millenia to that particular arrangement of life.  These are the earth’s ecosystems.  And they are incredibly precious.

This same perspective applies to each of us.

When we find ourselves thrust into experiences that we didn’t ask for—or would never consciously choose—you can count on those situations as opportunities to be stretched—to move beyond predictability into unfamiliar terrain.  In such situations, our primal instinct to survive sheds light on our life as a whole. Recognizing aspects of our lives that are out of balance—those that don’t truly serve our greatest good—end up defining our future.   This is the human version of edge.

Edge forces us to grow—to reassess.  Real growth happens when that which no longer serves our greatest good is released.  Real growth actually moves us to become more symbiotic—with ourselves and with all of life around us.

We instinctively know that solutions to big problems are found beyond the familiar boundaries of our self-prescribed lives.  When we are willing to embrace larger actions—lifestyle changes that reflect a holistic way of life—we rapidly become more symbiotically interconnected with life.  In this way, you could say that our lives parallel the edges and margins of an ecosystem.

John Francis, also known as Planetwalker—rediscovered rhythms in nature that western culture has nearly forgotten by walking the continent of North America in silence for 17 years.  In his book, The Ragged Edge of Silence, John shares that the single most valuable thing for people to know is this:  The basis of nature is cooperation and democracy. 

Indigenous peoples have long since recognized that each unique ecosystem yields it’s own unique set of bio-restorative offerings.  It requires only that we are able to distinguish the unique qualities, characteristics and properties of the plants and creatures living therein.  It’s worth repeating that this same perspective applies to each of us.

There is infinite possibility within the natural world to restore itself as well as what ails humanity.

Through our senses of wonder, curiosity and inquiry, our individual connection with the natural world has the direct capacity to restore ourselves as whole human beings at all levels.  Our greatness, our compassion and our authenticity become buried beneath the parts of ourselves we’ve become disconnected from.

Exploring your edges will take you on a journey to your most authentic self.  A place where you feel at home with who you are; where you recognize your weaknesses and your strengths, admit your imperfections and bask in your gifts.  In honoring this most human of journeys, we automatically honor the earth that has silently supported us all of our lives.

Making peace within our inner ecosystems, we become capable of restoring lasting peace for the earth as well.


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Have you been pondering where to go for a staycation?   Have you considered your nearest ecosystem?

Enjoy that park or pocket of wild space you’ve been meaning to visit.  Make a date with yourself.  Bring your comfort basics and drawing pad, pencil, and yes, a loupe.    There’s an artsy element to this—and with good reason.  Artists are—and have always been—the leaders of soul-inspired revolution.

Have you ever had the sense that you were waiting for something but didn’t know what it was?  The creative urge in you has a design all its own, just waiting to be discovered. 

When was the last time you found yourself watching or waiting for the opportunity of genuine self-expression?  Acting on the creative impulse actually develops what is known as the interdisciplinary mind.  A very good thing to be equipped with in the world.

As artists, we’re always using our inner sight as well as our outer sight to capture the essence of experiences, aliveness, and the dreaming of futures.  We often yearn to manifest the visions we see in our mind’s eye and our heart’s desire.

Spending creative time in nature dispels dross and connects you with your inner artist—particularly when you go with a loupe, pad and pencil.  The magic of the loupe is this: it accelerates multi-dimensional learning, which in turn awakens your values.

When was the last time you discussed your values with like-hearted souls?  Imagine describing your values effortlessly yet deeply at, say, a green drinks party.  What would you share first?  What other values would rise to the surface to strengthen the first and second ones?

From the premise of personal values, there is so much territory to explore.  For example,

What happens when we live life by our values?

Can we as individuals do this utterly and completely?  Why or why not?

What happens when we find ourselves bumping into aspects of life that force us to compromise our values?  Of course, it happens with such frequency that in many ways we have become fairly inured to it.  It’s just what we have to do to survive, right?  Or is it?

It seems to me that those aspects of life that force us to compromise are where the opportunities for growth lie hidden.  Growth not only for us individually, but for the earth’s well-being.

As you may have been noticing, human values are—en mass—repeatedly bumping into the intrinsic well-being of the natural world.  While some are asking themselves, “Will the earth suffer in some way as a result of my choice?”, we are simultaneously living in an age when big business has such a sway on our political system that the question of how to dismantle the EPA is actually being considered.  That such a concept is even in question reveals the ‘big-picture’ perspective of our government systems.

It also has quite a lot of people re-assessing their own values, since the subject is up.  This is actually a good thing.  In re-assessing, we often gain greater perspective, particularly if we’re willing to look at what the actual consequences are.

In Part 2, I’ll share an example from Donella Meadows.

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