Goose Bumps are Awe-some

goose bumps,portrait,woman

Why Do We Experience Awe?’ by Paul Piff and Dacher Kelner:

…We humans can get goose bumps when we experience awe, that often-positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world…Why do humans experience awe?

..awe imbues people with a different sense of themselves, one that is smaller, more humble and part of something larger…even brief experiences of awe, such as being amid beautiful tall trees, lead people to feel less narcissistic and entitled and more attuned to the common humanity people share with one another. In the great balancing act of our social lives, between the gratification of self-interest and a concern for others, fleeting experiences of awe redefine the self in terms of the collective, and orient our actions toward the needs of those around us.

You could make the case that our culture today is awe-deprived. Adults spend more and more time working and commuting and less time outdoors and with other people. Camping trips, picnics and midnight skies are forgone in favor of working weekends and late at night. Attendance at arts events — live music, theater, museums and galleries — has dropped over the years…

We believe that awe deprivation has had a hand in a broad societal shift that has been widely observed over the past 50 years: People have become more individualistic, more self-focused, more materialistic and less connected to others. To reverse this trend, we suggest that people insist on experiencing more everyday awe, to actively seek out what gives them goose bumps, be it in looking at trees, night skies, patterns of wind on water or the quotidian nobility of others — the teenage punk who gives up his seat on public transportation, the young child who explores the world in a state of wonder, the person who presses on against all odds. All of us will be better off for it.

Read entire op ed essay here: ‘Why Do We Experience Awe?’


Credits: Photo – Géraldine Hofmaier

Sunday Morning: Spring

tree-forest-tall-up-sky

So. I have been thinking about the change of seasons. I don’t want to miss spring this year. I want to distinguish the last winter frost from the out-of-season one, the frost of spring. I want to be there on the spot the moment the grass turns green…But it occurred to me that I could no more catch spring by the tip of the tail than I could untie the apparent knot in the snakeskin; there are no edges to grasp. Both are continuous loops. […]

I don’t want the same season twice in a row; I don’t want to know I’m getting last week’s weather, used weather, weather broadcast up and down the coast, old-hat weather. But there’s always unseasonable weather. What we think of the weather and behavior of life on the planet at any given season is really all a matter of statistical probabilities; at any given point, anything might happen. There is a bit of every season in each season. Green plants— deciduous green leaves— grow everywhere, all winter long, and small shoots come up pale and new in every season. Leaves die on the tree in May, turn brown, and fall into the creek. The calendar, the weather, and the behavior of wild creatures have the slimmest of connections. Everything overlaps smoothly for only a few weeks each season, and then it all tangles up again. The temperature, of course, lags far behind the calendar seasons, since the earth absorbs and releases heat slowly, like a leviathan breathing. Migrating birds head south in what appears to be dire panic, leaving mild weather and fields full of insects and seeds; they reappear as if in all eagerness in January, and poke about morosely in the snow. Several years ago our October woods would have made a dismal colored photograph for a sadist’s calendar: a killing frost came before the leaves had even begun to brown; they drooped from every tree like crepe, blackened and limp. It’s all a chancy, jumbled affair at best, as things seem to be below the stars. Time is the continuous loop, the snakeskin with scales endlessly overlapping without beginning or end, or time is an ascending spiral if you will, like a child’s toy Slinky. Of course we have no idea which arc on the loop is our time, let alone where the loop itself is, so to speak, or down whose lofty flight of stairs the Slinky so uncannily walks.

~ Annie Dillard, Untying the Knot. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 


Photo: jaimejustelaphoto

SMWI*: Pick ’em up and lay ’em down

adorable


Notes: GIF: Life and Lover. SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration

It focuses us on the thin line between what is there and what is not there.

standing-wheat-field-sun-rise

The silence is profound this morning. It is not portentous; there seems to be nothing in the waiting. It is a gentle silence, liquid and pastel, a shimmer on still waters. It is good to listen to the silence that surrounds each day. In the same way that music is made alive by the silence that surrounds the notes, a day comes alive by the silence that surrounds our actions. And the dawn is the time when silence reveals herself most clearly.

I once met a man who was raised on the Canadian prairies. We got to talking about the open space, and how it had shaped his spirit. “When the wind stops,” he said, “it is so loud that everyone pauses to listen.” The thought intrigued me. How could the end of a sound be loud? But when I traveled to those prairies, I began to understand. For the people in the great prairies, the sound they hear, the music that underlies their lives, is the constant and ever-present howl of the wind. To them it is no sound at all. When it is removed, the silence takes a different shape, and all are aware of it; all pause to hear.

We need to pay heed to the many silences in our lives. An empty room is alive with a different silence than a room where someone is hiding. The silence of a happy house echoes less darkly than the silence of a house of brooding anger. The silence of a winter morning is sharper than the silence of a summer dawn. The silence of a mountain pass is larger than the silence of a forest glen. These are not fantasies, they are subtle discriminations of the senses. Though all are the absence of sound, each silence has a character of its own. No meditation better clears the mind than to listen to the shape of the silence that surrounds us. It focuses us on the thin line between what is there and what is not there. It opens our heart to the unseen, and reminds us that the world is larger than the events that fill our days.

Into this morning’s silence comes the first call of a bird. I listen carefully. It cuts through the silence like a rainbow through the dawn.

~ Kent Nerburn, ‘The Eloquence of Silence’ from “Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life


Photograph: Tina

Kill the lights

New_York_City_at_night_HDR

Eleanor Randolph, NY Times: Kill the Lights, Not the Birds:

As many as a billion birds die each year in this country as they attempt to follow their seasonal routes — flying north in summer months, south in winter.  Because many songbirds, sea birds, and other avians rely on stars to navigate, they grow confused by artificial lights.  As a result, these birds die in droves as their ancient routes are interrupted by tall, brightly lit, glass buildings.

We can’t unplug the nation for the birds, of course.  But bird lovers in New York can celebrate another conversion in their intrepid campaign to dim non-essential lights during the bird migration seasons. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York promised on Monday to begin right away turning off excess lights in state buildings from midnight until dawn as the birds fly across his state. […]

Bright lights once helped define human success, a triumph over the limits and perils of nighttime. Now we know that dimming those lights can mean a different kind of success — the survival of thousands and thousands of migrating birds.

Read entire essay:  Kill the Lights, Not the Birds


Photo Credit: wiki commons

5:00 Bell: Take me home. Take me home.

compassion,nature

“Locals help turtles return to the water at the Rushikulya river in eastern India.”


Xinhua, wsj.com photos of the day.

It’s been a long day

black and white,photography,portrait

Sometimes I grow weary with all the days, with their fits and starts. I want to climb some old gray mountain, slowly, taking the rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks. I want to see how many stars are still in the sky that we have smothered for years now, a century at least. I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all, and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.

All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!

How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only. I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.

In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

~ Mary Oliver, The Poet Dreams of the Mountain. Swan: Poems and Prose Poems


Photo: NerySoul

Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration

exercise,bike,bicycling,read,book


Italian Lucio Santin enjoys the sunny spring weather at the English Garden in downtown Munich. (Source: Michaela Rehle @ wsj.com Photo of the Day 4/9/15)

A dog’s love


“Heartbreaking photos show grieving Bird and stray dogs attend funeral of woman who fed them.

These heartbreaking photos prove that a dog’s love knows no bounds as a collection of stray pooches pay tribute at the funeral of a woman who showed them kindness. Lying in the floors and trotting through the aisles, the dogs congregated at the funeral of Margarita Suarez – much to the surprise of the woman’s friends and family. Margarita, from Merida in Mexico, frequently took time out of her day to care for stray dogs and cats by giving them food in the morning. She would also take a bag of food out with her during the day, and treat other stray dogs she passed to a tasty treat. Dogs from all around the area would huddle around the caring woman when she passed them by, but they were evidently left heartbroken after Margarita passed away.

According to Misiones Online, the caring woman, who’s age has not been revealed, died after her health took a poor turn at the beginning of March. The family then began organising the funeral but were stunned when animals began arriving at the parlour where her mother’s body was being kept. Workers at the funeral home denied any knowledge of the animals and said they had never seen them before.

Amazingly, on the day of the funeral, a large number of stray dogs slowly followed the hearse carrying Margarita and even returned to the funeral home. They only left when the body was being prepared for cremation, but not before the family had one final treat. A bird, that was not thought to be native to the area, flew into the service and tweeted away contently. Margarita’s family have told how they believe the animals had an instinct that they wanted to be there to say goodbye to someone who had been so good to them.”


A ceaseless rustle of wings

moon-birds-migration

I knew without being able to see them that a few thousand feet up, there would be star-reading birds migrating north out of this heat toward our unrolling Wyoming mountain summer: owls, thrushes, orioles, sparrows. I knew that for some birds, migration is almost all they do, nonstop, hundreds of miles north, hundreds of miles south, back and forth, a ceaseless rustle of wings, years shaved off their wild lives with all the effort of near perpetual motion. Once, twenty-five years ago, camping near a waterfall on the Zambian border with Zaire, I had caught a glimpse of a distant flock of birds traveling at night against a full moon, fleeting black cut-out shapes, intent on destination. Often since then, I’ve searched the night sky, and although I have caught the brief twist of bats flitting through currents of insects, I have never again seen that nighttime miracle of birds, secretly stitching together south and north with their hunger, with their collective, insistent, mounting realization of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. […]

And in any case, what life had taught me is that where we come from is a point— not the starting point, not the defining point— just a point. It’s where we are that really counts.

~ Alexandra Fuller, Leaving Before the Rains Come


Photo: Joe Chan