This is a Spontaneous Video and Soundscape from a walk a long the beach. The captured images are the documentation of the waves and stones as they interact together along the tideline.
Collaborations with nature are an exercise in listening, seeing and then engaging. This spontaneous Symphony that I’m offering in video is about sharing an experience with an audience that captures the visual and audio composition that a place in nature offers us. This exploration is my attempt at composing the language of a place utilizing the “words” and “grammar” of the movement, light, sound and scent of a place.
My training in the visual art taught me how to see. How to frame and compose an image that is interesting, intriguing and engaging.
The ocean has been a deep and loyal companion in my life. The sound of the waves and the sensory richness of the salt air, wind, sun, rain etc…. have inspired and healed me. It’s rhythms are the stuff of archetypal and primordial connections. I dream the oceans as the great sources of all life here on earth.
Working with music and exploring different instruments has given me a sense of how to listen and play with others. I don’t think there is really another method that requires the same kind of dymamic of exchange. To create music with others is an exercise in being full present to add, subtract, pause, engage and have a musical conversation.
Drumming has been my primary focus for music. I have played wood winds, flutes and some string instruments. They all offer a different way of expression.
The world has many percussive traditions that have rhythms for almost every task or experience. Some tell a story. Some are the sound tracks to the social structures of a culture.
I use this understanding of music to listen to the world around me. I listen for the melodies and phrases that are constantly composed by the winds, rain, birds, tree leaves, ocean waves… etc…. and using this rich saturation of sounds for video and soundscaping.
Today we listen and we see what the waters have to say…..
Seeing the world from as many perspectives as we can will enable a deeper understanding of how we must take care of it.
When I’m out in the world I collect images and snippets of videos as a kind of digital sketch book to learn and explore what is around me. Some will end up in larger projects. Some will be just inspired content for painting and drawing.
We are entering into the time of year that is celebrated for the birth of Gods, Kings, return of Solar light and flames in lamps that burn far past their fuel source. A time for miracles. A time for celebrating life and the introspection supported by long nights.
November to February is the darkest time of the year here in the northern hemisphere. The sun hangs lower in the sky. The air it chilled. We all seem to answer a primordial call to connect to this light. Spiritual and secular traditions have evolved to track the Sun and it’s position. Giving rise to calendars, divination, and predictions for the seasons ahead. As our knowledge has grown about the universe so has our understanding of the cosmic forces and planetary dynamics that show us the movements of celestial bodies.
Neil Degrass Tyson has stated we are star stuff. The universe is in us.
Deep in us is a memory. Deep in our bones. Living in the proteins of our DNA. It evolved from a very distant past ancestor before we became this complex creature. It started in the first oceans. Back to the time of a great miracle. The beginnings social behaviors, cooperation and collaboration. These events changed the evolution of this planet. In the dark depths of melted comets and frozen space waters… down deep… in the dark….the primordial oceans along the thermal vents that spewed nutrients into the waters… where the Sun’s rays no longer reached. The first single celled bodies formed.
These are our ancestors. Protocells. All the genetic material we are made of began with them. No eyes. No hearts. No brains. No nuecleus. No cell wall. No means of movement other than drifting with the water currents tidal influences. They are called prokaryotes, the first biological life forms.
These first ancestors in order to survive learned to split molecules in their primitive digestive systems to feed themselves and explore the environment. This digestive process also peoduced some of the atmospheric gases that make up the air that creatures breath here on Earth.
As these prokaryotes drifted and multiplied into the ocean. Rising higher up in the waters they began to encounter a light and sense a warmth. This was the Sun. During this time the diet of these protocells was most likely hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide molecules. These molecules were present in the waters.
The light particles from the Sun passed through them as they floated in the waters with such speed that it shattered the molecules they were feeding on. And this encounter with light particles changed the internal structures in these proto cells to utilized this new tool. Evolution happened and the first chloroplast formed.
From this very beginning an infinate unfolding of behaviors and mutations have occurred to generate more complex evolutionary structures. Eyes. Brains. Internal and external cells and skin. Fins. Fish. Insects. Bones. Everything we see from the biological perspective of this planet started in the early oceans.
When life left the oceans our relationship to the sun shifted again. The Sun moved across the sky in a cyclical manner that produced times of light and dark. Day and night. These short cycles locked into longer cycles of the planetary dynamics creating seasonality. This produced more biological diversity to create and survive in multiple ecological environments.
Life moved in a rhythmic relationship to the sun. Plants follow the sun to feed then selves through photosynthesis. Birds migrate to nesting grounds. Seeds germinate to the warmth of the sun…. Animals hibernate in the winter. Lizards sun themselves to warm their blood.
Eventually we hominids appeared. Our evolution and relationship to the rhythms of the Sun became a journey of curiousity, exploration and engagement. These relationships can be seen in the hunter gathering, agricultural, migration , and settlements of humans. Depending on the place humans created mythologies and stories to mark the changes and map out the certainties. From this art, calendars, music, plantings, harvesting and the curiosity that became over time science and technologies.
All this brings us to this time of year in the northern hemisphere. Where a west ward moving star, our Sun, lights the day and follows a path across the sky. We bless it’s magic, mystery, the laws of physics and nature it embodies. With all the human diversity of spirit and science. It continues to feed, warm and inspire us.
How do we stop using the single use disposable items in our lives?
I ask this not as a way to shame or to point out the glut of plastics in the oceans. We have way too much guilt and blame circulating around everything today. Through the intense echo chamber of social media we are entrained to respond to it in an emotional Pavlovian response. In my mind this is not helpful. It continues a cycle of self depreciation and at it’s worst a kind of self hating because one thinks/feels they are not doing enough.
My intention with the question is to explore a conversation towards sustainable actions. There will most likely be other blog posts that explore more specifics. For today I would like to write about what I think are the roots of this mind set in a disposable society. I’m taking a Western European view on this because that is my background. I am fully aware this is not the case all over the world and with different cultures. I can say the diaspora of this mind set and economic growth has influenced and infiltrated the most remote areas of the globe with dire consequences. Everyone is now affect in some way by the global epidemic.
Where to begin…. There was a shift in societies when the industrial revolution happened which was around 1760 in Britain. Prior to that shift almost everything was made by someone by hand. Artisans, trades and craftspeople were the predominate design and manufacturing force that drove and grew the economy of most major cities. This was also a time where people made things at home. Weaving, sewing, wood carving, blacksmithing, pottery…. etc were considered desirable skills that contributed to the health and sustainability of a town or city. People took pride in the making of a good quality product. It was backed by your name and your reputation. There was also the provenance of a lineage… where something came from. It held a connection to a person, place or story. Things were not just things they were part of a social/cultural network of people and the world they lived in.
I also want to say people worked really hard just to survive during this time. Life was lived very close to the edge. Sanitation, disease, nutrition, etc…. were still in a place of mystery. People died young. Children didn’t survive. People feared God and who ever owned their land, taxes, failed crops. Hard work made you worthy of life and could get you a place in heaven.
How a society processes life and death says a lot about how they engage with the world around them. A society that recognizes the fragility of life will create methods and ways to sustain a future for those who live beyond them. This can look like passing on skills, a craft, how to plant trees and prune them, tools that have been part of a multi generation of a particular trade etc…. They saw the fruits of their labor, the gift of life itself asan enduring legacy. Carrying the memories of a person or family. What was created became the story that lived on in time.
The Industrial revolution is recognized by significant changes in economic structures, import/export, and the concept of mass manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, machines, mechanized factories. This centralized the labor force, created wages and depersonalization of the products being made. This change in how things are made began a systemic decline over the next three hundred years of the environment, society, and the quality of products made.
There is obvious stresses to the environment. Manufacturing requires materials like steel, cotton, petroleum…. etc….which creates growth in other markets and this in turn sacrifices the land, soil, and the environment for production.
The industrial revolution pushed the environment and humanity to the outer edge of value in society and made money and consumption the center of social growth. There were times during this 300 year time line where things shifted and workers got rights, fair wages, 40 hour work week…. eventual environmental protections… Protected lands. This has always been a fragile balance that is easily tipped over when the mechanism of Capitalism flexes it’s muscle. We are seeing that today. Again.
This is where the seeds of our disposable society began. It has been a calculated and deliberate method of conditionsing to get a social structure in place to sustain an elite economic class at the expense of people, society and the environment. This was the long term game of this marketing effort to get people to consume and distract them from casualties of these behaviors, feel good about purchasing, and alluding to abundance. This is Capitalism. To be able to buy something became a status symbol. It showed you were successful.
Another thing to take note of is the change in the focus of spiritual,secular and religious holidays. They have gone from a celebration of family, the land, service, good health, honoring brave and amazing people, etc…. to gross celebrations of consumption. Every holiday is a sale. Most of it is cheap throw away plastic. This exemplifies how as a society we have been corralled into a system that forces out meaning and replaces it with disposable consumption. It really is no different than telling people they can not practice their faith or beliefs. The church did it to indigenous people for a couple thousand years. Capitalism does it to whoever it needs to manipulate to get it needs met.
Today we are part of a system that divides us and keeps us separate on many levels. Our expected task is to move forward. Leave the past and move ahead. Don’t grieve. Don’t question. Don’t feel. Don’t think. Capitalism has narrowed the road and made it so stepping off the path or stopping is a recipe for catastrophic failure. So people do…. work… participate in psuedo social experiences that are geared to spike our dopamine levels and keep us sedated. We recognize the emptiness and yet feel powerless…. distracted…. overwhelmed.
The system of Capitalism that grew out of the industrial revolution is only sustainable through the power of purchasing more goods. This feeds the beast. This encourages cheaper products that are made not to last. It also created a system of unfixable products. Products that were used once thrown away and purchased again… and again.
The other part of this Capitalist system is to demonize the arts and dumb down the society. It also has little to no room for the individual unless they are contributing to the Capitalist model. As the world has embraced these mioptic views of success and economic growth it has driven down wages, set unrealistic social expectations and that in turn forces people to purchase cheaper and cheaper goods that further the destruction of each other and the world.
The industrial revolution and Capitalism have brought us here. We live in a systemically dysfunctional economy that promotes and encourages a disposable lifestyle and the consequences are what we are seeing today. How this will change is going to take a great effort from all sectors of the economy and the social hierarchies that we have created.
In the next part of this serious I will explore some ideas around making changes, what is possible, what realistic. Evolutionary changes happen cooperative unity and adaptations. Our progress has changed the world somethings will be changeable and other we will have figure out how to live with.
This season I will be offering a podcast as I make my way exploring, traveling and working in the world. The podcast will focus on stories, experiences, interviews that reflect the times we live in and the diaspora of changes that are happening as we explore the challenges and hopes to build a sustainable future.
Every year it seems the sun makes a trek south. Taking with it the warmth and light. It’s a slow process. Starting in the summer at the longest day of the year. Incremental in the sense of time and barely perceptible until one day an hour of light is gone. Then two… three… then the light and dark are balanced at a point marked as the Equinox. After that brief pause the sun procession continues.
The reality of this cosmic event is that the Sun is fixed at the center of our galaxy. It doesn’t really change it’s position. The sun just spins in the way it has for millions of years. The shift is in the rotation, angle and orbit of earth. This is what creates the cycling shift of light and dark a cross the surface of the planet. Giving us the seasons and cycles.
The observation of these cycles has created calendars, mythologies, Deities, methods for planting and harvest. All over the globe people have in some way honored the Sun’s journey and this dance of light and dark.
As the Sun moves away from us and the winter conditions set in. It gets cold. Shadows grow long. Waters freeze. The stories to mark the season take on the genre of an internal journey. There is the metaphor of hibernation and dream time, sleeping seeds, reflection and the mythical explorations of the underworld addressing the subconscious stirrings that are left unattended during the warmer months.
Every year this time rolls in and my body doesn’t like it. I am a solar creature. The sun feeds me. I need to feel that heat on my skin. I’m an unashamed sun worshiper. This time of the year my philandering, pansexual, solar partner seems to wanders off to visit other places. There is no jealousy. We are comfortable with our relationship. It’s cyclical. We know each others habits. In truth it is my fixed place on this planet that moves and I wander into the deep folds of thoughts and ideas. The cold confines me. The long night sky is clear and full of stars. I like the quiet and stillness to listen for the ideas and synthesis of my travels and experiences.
In a couple of days the Sun will venture back slowly up along the surface of the earth. I welcome this turn of the calendar wheel and the warmth and light brings. The dark has stirred ideas and new directions for the coming year. This has been a fruitful darkness so far.
It is about being effective. Being curious. Being inquisitive.
Asking questions that push beyond your beliefs and challenging the biases internalized and cultivated in this world.
It is the awareness and the ability to not fall for the universal confirmation biases that are destroying this world through the power grab of the mioptic self serving groups and the media they control.
It starts with a question. Knowledge is not a cage. It opens the door to inquiries and curiosity. It leads to more questions that stretch beyond the beliefs we have inherited and create. Curiosity pushes us out into a world of the mysterious and the magicial.
“Water, water every where and not a drop to drink….”
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Water is the stuff that makes all this happen. It has given us everything. Life, food and the beautiful planet we live on.
Water is a crucible that has over the epocs of earth’s timeline generated diverse life forms that have explored the terrain of earth. Recycling back to the waters to become new life forms. The process is a continuous wheel of change and evolution.
Water got it done. Water brings us back from the brink of death when systems collapse. Water is the stable back bone to manifestation, recalculation and experimentation in the story of this earth. All things need it to survive.
This simple molecular bond birthed in the stars, ejected into space. Traveling across the universe to pool and mingle with the dust of stars and the mineral nutrients of earth. It birth the first cells that learn to drink the sun light that birth the water at the beginning of time….
Water is the cosmic great mother. We need to remember this. It lives in us and we are the embodiment of a long story of success, failure and the elegance of chance and evolution. The story of water is our story.
Over the course of this next year I will be working on a film project to tell the story of water. From where it came from in the stars, it’s importance, the issues we now face in ownership, accessibility and ways we need to protect it. I will interview water protectors, elders, teachers, scientists, hydrologists, etc… to bring this story together and share it with you.
Almost all life on this planet starts with a seed of some type. A tiny packet of information so powerful it will grow, multiply, shapeshift, mature to create more seeds and participate in the ecosystems it was designed for. There are many types and forms of seeds. They are of a wide spectrum of shapes and colors. Depending on the species, climate, conditions, dispersion methods they are designed to hold the necessary information to create life. The vitality of seeds determines the continued success of life. Some seeds like coconuts are large and some so tiny that they go undetected into the deep folds of earth and soil. We only see them when they start to grow.
Seeds are the biological equivalent to what would be a singularity in astronomy. All the building blocks for an entire universe contained in a fragile state of potential. Waiting for the right conditions to expand outward. Unlike the infinite force of a singularity, a seed grows in relationship to what it is fed. It needs an nurturing environment of right conditions: Water, warmth, nutrients….
Once the seed finds it’s resting place it waits for the exchange of information to begin a metamorphosis. This starts with water. A swelling. These first interactions are indicators of great change and define the success of the seed.
The Seed starts to developed relationships with the mycelium, bacteria, molds to exchange nutrients…. grow roots…. venturing into a dark space of growth. Down into the fertile fermented of organic materials… compost, dead leaves, and minerals. The underworld. A delicious feast for a seed.
At the same time the seed draws itself upward to the warm whisper of above. A cosmic mystery. Felt as warmth. The fleshy food part of the seed which protects and feeds the embryonic plant as it is seeking this distance something.
The stem thickens and grows. The seedling twists and rotates. Pushing through the bits and decaying matter to meet the bright light of the sun. It has bridge the two worlds: Above and Below. Embodying the image of the world tree.
The pale surface of the seed is turned on by the sudden influx of fast moving light particles and chloroplasts awaken. They start a metabolic process to turn sunlight into sugars.
The tiny organelle fires up with an intuitive design that splits water atoms, combines with carbon monoxide and releasing oxygen. They become tiny fledging lungs for the planet.
The process of seeds to the green lungs of the planet and the creation of more seeds is the result of billions of years of evolution and symbiotic relationships.
Seeds are sacred and precious. How we protect them in the coming years will determine our very existence. It has become apparent in the last few years that the fragile balance between water, seeds and soil will ultimately be the factors of our survival.
As a contemporary shaman, I look at the world through the lens of sacred mystery and scientific fact. Ceremony and the celebration of life starts with the knowledge of connection and curiousity. Who we are and the relationships created with the biodiversity of this earth ground us in the sense of belong. This belonging is the seed for empathy and compassion.
We might not know all of the mystery yet what we do know is awe inspiring and magical. We need both right now to come together and make changes to our lives. We can plant the metaphorical seeds of vision and change for a collective new world design. We also need to plant. We have to protect the seeds, soil, and waters.
The Bagavad Gita is set during a time of great social change in India. The protagonist Arjuna wrestles with a moral dilemma. Before him on the Kuru plain stands the families of the Pandavas and Kauravas ready to fight for the throne. Arjuna sees the violence, death and destruction as a waste of life with out meaning… he can’t see the value of this senslessness fight. He is troubled and decides to quit and with draw from the battle. He turns to his charioteer Krishna for council on this moral dilemma.
Krishna guides Arjuna in the karmic duty to uphold the Dharma through selfless action. The self is eternal and unchanging. It is fixed like the sun and stars. Like the thermodynamic process that says everything is neither created nor destroyed it moves through states of mass/matter and energy .. work and entropy… order and chaos. The soul or “atma” in Sanskrit is eternal and returns again age after age and will until the universe ends. This is the awakening.
To see everything as part of the cosmic turn of the wheel.
Today this story has relevance. We all are now seeking what to do or what is needed to bring the world back into balance. We are sorting out how to fight the evils of suffering, war, indifference and put compassion, peace, and love back in it’s place. Humanity is struggling with the moral dilemma of how to proceed to in the complex entanglement of humanity, resources and the planet.
Dharma as the infinite cosmic law that binds all and prevents the universe from shattering.
One of my favorite operas by the composer Phil Glass is Satyagraha. It is the story of Ghandi and his birthing of the concept of Satyagraha as a way of resistance and change during his time as a lawyer in South Africa. Gandhi based he’s teaching on the Gita and read it more than any other text. Using it as the inspiration for his life and work.
“Satyagraha, or holding onto truth, or truth force, is a particular form of nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. It is not the same as passive resistance, and advocates resisting non-violently over using violence. Resisting non-violently is considered the summit of bravery.”
From the first time I heard this back in the 80s and even now it still moves me. I feel the tensions of the opening scene as this battle is set and the struggle to question the situation and explore what is right action.
This story and it themes of good and evil. Right and wrong. Self vs selfless. Moral duty and right action. Reminds me of the state of the world right now. We are in a circling turmoil. In the awkward pause before a great battle. To be fought for the next millennium.
The social media echo chamber, the climate, humanitarian crisis, wars, and the overwhelming sense that this is a fight to set things back into balance. To bring about a new age not of some abstract bliss but of a renewed connection to the earth and all its beings.
It starts with the resistance to injustice and the persistence to be non-compliant, non-violent. These are the tools for weakening the systems that have fed us an over saturation of polarizing views, unchecked consumerism, fear, othering, doctrines that have served to blind and overwhelm us to the true nature of who we are. Engaged actions on a mass scale are how we are to build a sustainable society and future.