Silent Respiration of Forests - Japan: Numanotaira #9
    I thought I’d give you a break from my words for once, and this time share some things a little broader and more artistic. This is especially, especially important for a topic like ‘Meaning’, since try as we might, words will never be able to capture the true worth and value of that which is meaningful to us. Poetry may be as close as language can come, but that is because (in my opinion) it is much more ambiguous, and allows us to more freely fill the words with our own meaning.
 
    I’d like to begin by sharing some dance. This video is taken from a piece created by my ineffably talented wife (Kim Tassia Kreipe) and best friend (Jack Widdowson), called Andererseits, and this particular snippet explores the power and ‘meaning’ of touch. They’ve recently solidified their work into a collective, and called themselves InsideOut – keep an eye on their Insta for updates and the like.
    Personally, however, no words or any medium of art will ever come close to expressing the feeling of fulfilment and peace I find in forests. In all my striving and attempts to forge meaning in my life, nothing has ever outshone the sense of ‘place’ and contentment I find from standing deep in a forest’s heart. All meaning vanishes for me there, but not that life becomes meaningless, far from it– everything makes sense.
    A long time ago my aunt shared with me the following photography project, by a Japanese photographer called Takeshi Shikama. I have struggled to find anything that captures the power of forests so well since. The poem that accompanies them is as follows (and the statement found here):

"The Silent Respiration of Forests"

“An endless stretch 
Of tree columns overlapping one another,
Ever so rhythmic to the eye. 
There pervades a deep silence.
Yet, listening carefully to the surging, undulating sea of trees,
A slight murmur can be heard.
Beckoned by this voice,
I step inside this unknown world,
Wondering to myself:
Is this really the entrance to a blissful paradise?
Between the cluster of trees, I catch a glimpse of a huge tree.
As if magnetized,
Step by step, I find myself approaching this tree,
Tilting its enormous trunk at a slight angle,
Wearing a lofty air befitting the lord of the forest…
Suddenly, I sensed a voice from deep within the curtain of silence
Warning me not to go any further,
And I stopped.
The depth of the forest was filled with an uncanny air
For something seemed to be lurking there.”
[All images credit: Takeshi Shikama; source: https://www.shikamaphoto.com/index.html#gallery]

I’d like to leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein, as it touches on something within this topic that I find extremely important: recognition that there are infinite different manifestations of life, and that all are valid and important as a part of this beautiful whole we are each a piece of. We all find different meanings in this life, and none more valid than any other– be it an idea, a form of expression, a place or time, a person, an animal, a God; our lives lead us to them, and the ‘dance’ we partake in with them is ours alone. Only by embracing others, and attempting to make place for all of them, is a sustainable future on the horizon.

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”

– Albert Einstein, 1954

The best way to help in this “widening [of] our circle of compassion” is by sharing your perspectives with others, and opening up discussion and awareness, so send me your responses to the month’s topic at [email protected] and help open some minds!

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