A sense of awe, a search for new ideas, and a deep sadness.
It is easy to be obsessed by the beauty of waterlilies. The last 30 years of the painter Claude Monet’s life were dominated by his water lilies. This love and obsession lead to around 250 oil paintings, some were small, while others covered an entire wall. Experiencing awe via nature, art or existential thinking is not only wonderful, it can even help to reduce pro-inflammatory proteins in our body. A study found that feelings of awe was the strongest predictor to low levels of pro-inflammatory proteins .
Awe can be described as a sense of fear mixed with fascination and wonder that nudges us to explore and ponder. Awe can be felt about a range of things from auroras to the destructive power of a new weapon, i.e. there is both a positive and negative aspect linked to feelings of awe. Awe is also about slowing paddling around in a kayak surrounded by waterlilies.
There is also a sense of awe that is linked to the mystery of how a waterlily manages to float on the water. An important part of biomimicry is to feel awe and then use that initial feeling to study how nature solves problems.
The leaves of water-lilies are amazing and the most stunning of all waterlilies leaves are the giant Amazon water-lily that can grow over 2.5. m. The leaves collect light and they can provide inspiration for designing devices such as floating photovoltaic arrays. The amazing leaf structure has also inspired architects.
Go here to watch Michael Pawlyn’s Ted talk about Using Nature’s Genius in Architecture.
The deep sadness is linked to the destruction of wetlands. Wetlands is one of the most important ecological structures on Earth. They are the cradles of biological diversity and one of the world’s most production environments: home to birds, plants, amphibians and insects. Wetlands are also important water reservoirs that helps to limit the effects of climate changes by regulating the ground water.Wetlands acts like sponges and helps to prevent flooding.
Traditionally, wetlands have been regarded as useful land that needed to be converting into farming land. Today, this attitude has changed and the importance of wetlands are recognized. Sadly, since 1900, half the world’s wetland areas have disappeared. Apart from the impact of development in wetland areas, there are several other threats, such as the amount of water that is taken from underground aquifer, pollution and dams.
There are two main types of waterlilies, hardy waterlilies that bloom during the day, and the tropical that can bloom either during the day or night. Both kinds are dependent upon good water quality.
Poor water quality and well as erosion are threatening unique waterlilies in Thailand. The importance of preserving these stunning flowers has been recognized by the Thai government where the flowers provide local income. Commercial collection of flowers s part of the problem, although mass scale river dredging is a more serious concern. The waterlily is now regarded as one Thailand’s ten most endangered species. Waterlilies are also threatened in countries such as India.
Let us end with something beautiful, a poem and the awe inspiring video “Our True Significance”. There is also a video about wetlands.
The Water Lily
My whole life is mine, but whoever says so
will deprive me, for it is infinite.
The ripple of water, the shade of the sky
are mine; it is still the same, my life.
No desire opens me: I am full,
I never close myself with refusal-
in the rythm of my daily soul
I do not desire-I am moved;
by being moved I exert my empire,
making the dreams of night real:
into my body at the bottom of the water
I attract the beyonds of mirrors…
Translated by A. Poulin
Rainer Maria Rilke