A Place in Paradise

Spring has hit southeastern Michigan — and the more time I spend here, and the more time I spend learning about our local plants and animals, the more I look forward to the return of this season. Thinking about this quote from Rachel Carson:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”

Springtime is so energizing. This doesn’t necessarily mean being giddy… just like any other seasonal change, the coming of spring can remind you of what’s been and what’s to come, which can lead to some somber meditations about the “ephemerality” of life (at least at the individual level). I think this is what the Japanese call “mono no aware” or a reverent acceptance of the impermanence of things; a sensitivity to ephemera. Nothing more energizing than being reminded that you don’t have forever to do the things that you want to do. A long and healthy life isn’t a guarantee, as we know from watching the declines of others or even from our own lives.

Anyways… The springtime always leads me entertain the notion that we are alive in an earthly paradise — all the shades of life revealing themselves in the unfolding of spring. Every person probably imagines paradise differently (although most visions, at least the ones that I’m familiar with, seem to be based in the natural world). For some, paradise is a sandy surf beach under a blue sky. For others, it’s a green and leafy eden. For sailors, it’s a Fiddler’s Green. For The Piano Guys, it’s on top of a mountain in southwestern Utah!

This cover (of the coldplay song “Paradise”) reminds me of how much more inspiring and motivating it can feel to do your work/art in a place that is important to you.  Apparently these musicians are from Utah and wanted to film the video for “Paradise” in their home state, highlighting the beautiful and majestic mountains they grew up with:

I don’t know how much notions of paradise affect people today (or how much they ever did), but that’s what I’m thinking about today… is how beautiful and paradise-like the natural world can seem, especially in the springtime, and how nice it can feel to spend time outside in it.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  John Muir

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”  Kahlil Gibran

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