Thursday, May 5, 2016

For The Beauty of the Earth

Today is about beauty. Today is about spring. Today is about planting seeds and watching what happens. It is about puddles and children and warm rains. Today is about waterfalls and ice, about stunning white winters and the movement of glaciers. It’s about pollination and flowers. It's about the what’s underneath our feet and in our waters. Today is about the heartbeat and soul of the earth itself. Today is about beauty for its own sake.

This week I am moving away from books and endorsing Moving Art, a collection of six short nature videos available on Netflix. I admit to being somewhat addicted to nature shows, and Netflix, my favorite video aggregator here in Canada, has plenty of them, but the six Moving Art Videos by videographer Louie Schwartzberg are some of the finest.

These videos are not long, twenty five minutes at most, and there is no narration, only music. Lovely, lovely music. They are simply titled - Underwater, Forests, Flowers, Oceans, Waterfalls and Deserts.

If you are a reader of this blog you will know that I relish first lines. In a book or article it is first sentence which draws me in. The only first “lines” in these videos are short quotations at the beginnings of each. Waterfalls begins thusly:

A strong person and a waterfall channel their own path.

The photos and video in Waterfalls are an exquisite combination of both slow motion and speeded-up camera. Ice falls. Curtains of water. Slow trickles and enormous gushes. It was the first in series I watched and it brought tears to my eyes for the beauty of it.

Oceans, another favorite begins with the Jacques Cousteau quote:

The sea, once it casts its spell holds one in its net of wonder forever.

I know this is true. 

My mother used to call me a water rat. Water has always fascinated me and I think it’s why I currently write sea adventure mysteries and why 99 % of all my previous novels have had something to do with the sea.

Sitting on a beach, in front of ocean breakers is just about the only time where I can sit and sit and watch. And do nothing. It is just about the only time I don’t even need a book to entertain me. I can just sit there and be with the water. For hours.

Underwater is stunning in its portrayal of an entire life which goes on beneath its depths. I also love snorkeling, and this one took me back to Caribbean vacations and watching this life unfold.

This is how Forests begins:

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.

Which brings this around to God. I will change that slightly and say, The clearest way into God is through a forest wilderness. Agree? I think you might.

Here are the words which open Flowers:

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

Flowers allows you to see this miracle. I recommend it. It might even change your life.

We never even get to know where Schwartzberg films these and maybe that’s by design. This is our planet. This is our home. Wherever it is, this is our home. The beauty of the earth is just there even when no one sees it.

This is maybe how we should engage in our own creative acts but often it is not. When we come up with a work of art, our first thoughts are, Can I sell this? Can I make some money off of this? Rather than, here is a piece of beauty for its own sake. Enjoy it.

I’ve just started reading a new book on creativity. Only a chapter into Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I already have a story to share. I have just read about a woman who, as a child, loved figure skating. In her teens, though, she was weeded out when it was determined she would never make it to the Olympics. She wasn’t quite good enough, so why continue?

At age forty she has returned to skating. Not to make it to the Olympics, not to somehow monetize it, but just for the sheer joy of it.

That is our earth, beautiful, simply for the joy of it. The whole of creation, worshipping Creator God, simply for the happiness of doing so.

My only complaint and this is a complaint with Netflix and not with the videos, is that the videos don’t automatically go from one to the next, like other seasons and programs in Netflix. At the end of each they stop. I would love for there to be a continual loop. That way I could set them to play and have them run all day. 

To close, I present to you a song - For the Beauty of the Earth. I love this arrangement.

Next Time: Time for another thriller endorsement - this time Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson.

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