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Inspirational Environmental Energy in the City

Such concepts as energy and flow are very complex ideas that have been studied by people of virtually all professions, in every corner of the world, from the first intelligent man to the rocket scientists of today. Many practicality-driven people view the study of these concepts as a search for absolute truth. Mathematicians will search for formulas to calculate flow and transformation of energy in nature. This type of analysis of our environment is, of course, very important and necessary for scientific and technological advancement in our society.

But in my personal opinion, a much deeper and more fascinating study of these natural concepts is undertaken by those who don’t search for absolute truths or calculable formulas, but rather who dissect the natural environment around us to discover how the uniquely fascinating “energies? in the environment affect the human experience, and then react to these energies by taking action. The artist Andy Goldsworthy explores such natural concepts of flow and conservation of energy in the most unconventional and bizarre, yet fascinating ways by visiting various natural sites around the world and receiving artistic inspiration from the natural energies present. “You feel as if you’ve touched the heart of the place. That’s a way of understanding. Seeing something that you never saw before, that was always there but you were blind to it,? says Goldsworthy in his documentary “Rivers and Tides.? To me, the beauty of Goldsworthy’s art is that it is in such simple natural objects—the emotional energies given off by sticks and twigs, icicles, iron oxide chalk—that energizes his inner emotions and prompts him to create truly extraordinary pieces of art out of the very ordinary that surrounds him. This seeing of what you have never seen before and experiencing deep emotional feeling that stimulates first wonder and awe, then sparks imagination, and finally drives you to action by expressing these emotions, is the most profound yet at the same time humbling experience for me. Such experiences invoke me to think about larger things; about the vastness and complexity of nature, about the power of human senses and emotion, and about the immense unknown.

Personally, the urban city environment provides as much energy as the natural environment. While riding the city bus down a busy street, I am often struck by the speed at which life is passing me. I am reminded of the fast pace of modern American society and often inspired to make a personal resolution to slow down and smell the roses, letting the energies of my environment translate into emotional feeling. When walking downtown beneath the towering skyscrapers and tall office buildings, I am always struck with the feeling of being overpowered by the mammoth structures looming over me. Overcoming my emotions in such times is always the personally belittling and humbling realization that I am but one small person, like a small ant, in a very big world; that centering my life around pleasing myself is denying my societal duty to contribute to the betterment of the global community.

Likewise, approaching the downtown district by car or bus from the interstate is almost always a profound experience with environmental energy. From the first glance of the towering skyline and growing gradually closer, I experience an amazing feeling of excitement. Though I’ve experienced it many times, it never fails that the energies of the majestic skyline pull me into the city, in an unavoidable magnetic sort of way.

Additionally, the sight of a tree while strolling an urban city street that is literally surrounded by the concrete and steel of the place often gives off powerful environmental energy. The sight of such reminds me of the ever-presence of the natural, even in the man-made urban environment in which nature is usually seemingly “conquered.? Likewise, witnessing the juxtaposition of new and old structures complementing, or sometimes competing with one another, is rich in energy. These powerful feelings are often times a call to action; to work for a more environmentally-friendly city that embraces the natural world that we have so carelessly neglected. This list could virtually go on, and on, and on. The urban city has always been full of profound energy that has affected me emotionally, many in very powerful ways.