How To Learn From Nature


Close down your eyes and consider a square. Visualize it in your mind’s eye.

Perhaps we see a small pencil-drawn square upon a piece of dotted graph paper, or maybe we envisage an enormous square hovering in mid-air as its own entity. You might see a simple, thin black line, or perhaps it is swollen with a harsh neon pink tone. Whatever scenario comes to your mind, there is no doubt that your own version of a square will have four sides, all of equal length and with each corner leading to the next.

The square is symmetrical and will always be the same shape.

Now, picture that you are walking along a beach with soft, white sand that slowly sifts through your toes. It seems to stretch for miles and miles into the seascape's horizon, beyond the point that is possible for the eye to see any further.

The salt in the breeze dancing around you is almost detectable with each breath and leaves a slight residue on the surface of your skin. A soft crunch beneath your bare feet indicates towards a bed of treats, washed up by the gentle lapping of water delicately brushing against your ankles. You crouch down and pick up a single, unbroken shell from the ocean-glazed sand beneath you and hold it in your palm. How different this shape in comparison to the square that you held in your mind just moments ago?

You might not have held a shell before.

Perhaps the situation is that for this moment, in your imagination, you are holding a shell for the very first time and examining what the enchanting little object has to offer. Or instead, maybe you are fondly recollecting a memory previously stored; a tender story that belongs to no one but you.

You can just about make out the faded veins on its aged chest, as story telling as those upon the palm that it is resting – your palm. Whilst the shell might not have such an obvious shape to which it can be assigned as a square does, it still attains a unique symmetry in its rubbings and marks.

In contrast to the square, it is imperfect.

Looking beyond the imperfections however, there is something so aesthetically pleasing about this gift from nature that is hard to pin point. It's skin has been kissed by the moving landscape surrounding it. If you inspect closely enough, you can begin to see the previously undetected gentle patterns emerge, like a secret being whispered only for you.

There is something about the shell that signifies balance.

Balance – so hard to achieve yet something that comes so naturally to an object at the mercy of Mother Nature. It seems to me that sometimes, if we turn to the earth, we can find the purest teachings about life.

Whilst this single shell is just one within a seemingly endless collection gifted to the shore with every greeting wave from the ocean, it is beautiful.