“…A howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
I drove past the Whiteside Mountain overlook yesterday as the sun was setting. Throngs of tourists gathered along the guardrail with phones and cameras at the ready, eager to glimpse and capture the Shadow of the Bear.
During this time in October, the sun’s position is such that when it sets, a giant shadow in the shape of a bear (cast by the stately mountain peaks and ridge lines) forms in the valley below. The combination of the golden light of October illuminating the valley spotted with fall color, and the giant bear making its way across the treetops is an awe-inspiring sight to experience.
Every year during this time, I am transported from the mountains of western North Carolina to the south of France and am reminded of the ethereal, golden light in Provence. I think of Monet, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, and others who flocked to the region to witness and capture on their canvases the glowing landscapes.
The changing light and brilliant colors posed a challenge to Monet—how to capture such a colorful palette without losing the untamed energy before him?
By acting counter to human instinct.
Instead of wrestling with the unpredictability of nature and the ever-changing light, he embraced it. Monet transmuted what was in his field of vision, playfully interpreting through his imagination, making landscapes even more moving and spiritually fulfilling on his canvas.
A powerful reminder for us that the wild, unpredictable nature of things and people is none of our business.
It is when we stay focused on our own palettes, making our own choices and letting others make their own (admittedly a toughie for parents), that we can create from our own wild nature—mining the depths of our imagination without restraint or the need to control (others or ourselves).
From here, we can embrace any and all differences and seek to bring a new light of understanding into our hearts and have faith.