It truly started to sink in about the second week of classes. I started to remember the readings and what we discussed in class about Muir and how engaged he was about seeing the beauty in nature. It was hard for me to start with finding beauty, I felt like I was trying so hard to find beauty, but once I stopped trying to find beauty is when I actually became engaged with nature. As I was writing my daily journals, little things kept becoming clearer and I could tell I was getting more involved with beauty. Once you rewrite over and over in your journals, it starts to make sense.
After the fourth week I was feeling good about being involved in nature, I could start to recognize what beauty was. I could walk to class or even just sit outside my apartment and take in everything that was happening around me and make the best out of it. Being engaged in nature has led me up to this point. After six weeks into aesthetics, I feel so much more involved with nature. It is almost like I feel comfortable with it now. I feel like nature accepts me for who I am. Sometimes we take that for granted and do not appreciate it. I am fully engaged with what nature has to offer me, and I am willing to take that.
I havent stopped being engaged in nature as I am always aware of what is around me and I am willing to take it in and make in my own experience. The John Muir guide states, One overcomes a tendency of some philosophers to analyze aesthetic experiences in terms of a series of levels (2). I believe that we have to experience a series of levels, I feel that I have experienced wholehearted engagements, but not all of the time. I personally did not engage in a high level in mind, body, and soul as Muir did. Muirs integrated character was visible as a maturing child.
He developed the appreciation of beauty in nature far better than any child growing up now. I did not engage in beauty within nature until I become a young adult. When children are at a younger age, their minds are free to wander and experience what they want. Most children have a short attention span and find it extremely difficult to experience what Muir did at an early age. As John Muir stated in his autobiography, he was fond of everything that was wild, and how he grew fonder and fonder of wild places (3). Muir accomplished wholehearted engagement of beauty as a child.
That is a very challenging task to accomplish at such a young age. Muir also embraced nature as a whole and delighted in detail just as I have. In addition, the Muir guide states that he welcomed storms because they display high energy and drama (4). I felt the same way when I was experiencing nature just as a storm was occurring. I opened my window so I could experience what it would be like to be outside in the storm. I could also document what I was feeling and how it made me feel. With my window open, it made me feel like I was part of the storm. I could actually feel the energy from the storm.
As I was doing this, I read the statement, Fear would have blocked finding (4), I completely agree with this statement. If you let fear limit the involvement and engagement of beauty, then wholehearted engagement in mind, body, and soul will not be accomplished. I have read the Muir guide over and over to truly focus and engage in what he felt. I was trying to develop the skills to be able to successfully engage just as he did at a young age. When Muir had little sleep and ate little food in cold weather, he had a positive attitude toward life. In the animal kingdom he found analogies to a positive attitude.
This relates most to me. As times got harder for Muir, he never looked down on himself. He always kept looking forward and found positives in things where others would find negatives. He found positive situations and found out how nature had a therapeutic effect on our health and sanity (5). We need to be positive in order to experience and gain refreshments from nature so we can be wholehearted and engage in mind, body, and soul. Keen perception is very important when experiencing natural beauty. Muirs detailing in perception is much keener than most people enjoy.
In the John Muir guide it stated that visual perception is the most prominent (6). I believe that visual perception is the most prominent followed by sound. Muir gives a very descriptive soundscape about listening to all types of winds, season after season. He is very keen in describing the needles and how every needle is carefully tempered and gives forth no uncertain sound (6). Muir made me realize how keen perception can describe how much natural beauty something has. He described something as little as a needle gives no sound. That concept made me contemplate in more detail, using my keen perception.
As I read how essential concentration and patient attention are, then I fully started to engage in natural beauty. I was able to concentrate on the finer details of beauty and not just beauty as a whole. I agree with the statement Perception is not restricted to individual sense organs, but is also an affair of the total body, taking it all in (7). Using the total body to experience keen perception makes natural beauty powerful and excites the perceptions. I started using the different senses to develop the full engagement of natural beauty. Muir used keen perception very well.
When he describes walking from Yosemite Valley to the head of the Nevada Fall, he made you fully aware of his surroundings. He kept the reader intrigued. The use of perception made the reader actually feel as if he were walking with Muir. Muir was an advanced perceiver, and he was fully engaged in the natural beauty just as his writings show. His writings showed that he lived at high extremes of sensitivity and perception. Scientific understanding makes natural beauty interesting. It is hard to comprehend that scientific understanding has much to do with beauty.
Just as Muir stated, everything invites us to learn something of its history and relationship in it. When I think of scientific understanding, I think of how trees are formed and how much relationship trees have with the surrounding environment. Trees are necessary to have in order to keep nature beautiful. Trees provide shelter, food, and oxygen for any living thing. I believe that biology and chemistry go hand in hand with the beauty of nature. Trees make up a big part of nature. What would happen if there were no trees? Perhaps nothing would be alive in this world today.
Nature works in a big cycle, everything benefits from everything. Everything is created through biology. Living organisms have either prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells. Muir was able to study what made nature beautiful and not just how. He was able to find beauty from the inside out. The Muir guide states that he took measurements, counted rings on trees and recorded species observed (9). He did the scientific research behind what made nature so beautiful. I strongly agree with the statement that scientific component is essential for aesthetic appreciation. I also feel that scientific understanding is also religious.
In The Holy Bible Adam and Eve were the first people created by God. Adam and Eve created natural beauty because of what they had and what materials they used. They created natural beauty from nothing. Natural beauty is nothing without scientific understanding. Muirs reaction the finding the relations of harmony as he was examining the plant is comparable to my reaction when I am intrigued about something as interesting as finding inner beauty. I feel as if Muir and I have closely related characteristics about perceiving beauty as divine. From what I have read Muir is very outgoing and detail oriented.
The way he explains his journeys sounds like they are full of life. His journey through life has been a very positive one, he has not let anything hold him back, and when he is determined to do something he will do it. Muir states Like everybody else I was always fond of flowers, attracted by their external beauty and purity (14), I feel as if he is trying to say that you do not really appreciate something until you fully understand what that thing is. Muir examined plants an found that they had inner beauty as well as the outside, which opened his eyes and made him realize it.
The quote in the Muir guide about the Yosemite Valley, puts a beautiful picture in ones head, when he says water descending in thunder, and the same water gliding through meadows and groves in gentlest beauty (15). The metal picture is just so clear and soothing. I believe that this is a simple way to find the unity of two objects in nature. Harmony can be simple and complex it is just a matter of what is being discussed the way Muir uses harmony for the underlying unity of objects in nature makes the reader comprehended what the harmony is.
As the guide states harmony is not that easy to identify immediately. We have to understand the beauty and learn how appreciate it. Muir found the inner beauty of many different objects in nature because he has studied them before, from the inside out. He understood what each object was. In addition, harmony did not fit my typical notion of beauty until I wanted to find the inner beauty of an object. I wanted to find the inner beauty in a rock. I cracked open the rock on the ground, when the rock broke I could see many different layers that have formed over time.
It started to hit me that this rock as probably been around longer than I have. I did not fully understand what Muir did when he tested the plant but it was making better sense how to find inner beauty. I also believe that the minds discovery mediates between the physical and spiritual. We have to be in the right state of mind to find inner beauty. You cannot just want to find inner beauty right away it takes time to develop and really appreciate what is being seen. John Muir had a wonderful mind to understand and to comply how harmonized nature was. Beauty is Divine (18).
Yes I believe that beauty is divine. I am very religious and I am also in love with the creator. People can be saved from the corruption of civilization by finding divinity in nature. God is everywhere. As a kid I grew up believing in God and I still do to this day. I went to church every Sunday and tried to be the best Christian I could be. Muir wanted to find God in nature, and I believe that he did. Muirs quote in 1869, when he was to find God, I think was a perfect representational of divinity. When life pushes you and makes you feel like you are nothing to society, God is always there for you.
Even if you do not attend sermon and communion, you can do it in your own presence. Beauty is not god, but the relationship between yourself and God can be beautiful and it should be. Furthermore, the way Muir portrays nature so perfect that it could not be ugly is a very good representational of how divine nature is. Something ugly to one person could also be beautiful and perfect to another. It is just the way people perceive their own definition of what ugliness really is. Death is just a cycle of life. The way Muir guide states how a rotting carcass is nourishing the soil for the next growth of life.
Death to a person could be a terrible and freighting situation, but to Muir he had a positive outlook on life. The thought of death to him was a beautiful and welcoming idea. He states that we are all going to die anyway so why worry about it. He lived his life to the fullest with no regrets. Fear was never on his mind, and that is why he is who he is today. He always lived on the edge and never worried about fear. Muir does not want us to see everybody as beautiful, because to him everything is not beautiful. He wants us to focus on what has beauty and what is divine.