Tread lightly. Something I have learned from returning to “el país grande del sur” for more than a decade. We cannot continue perceiving and treating the Earth as simply a place for us to claim, build upon, destruct, desecrate. We can no longer ignore the Earth’s messages for us to stop our patterns of behavior and our patterns of perception. I have not been back to Big Sur since the devastating Soberanes Fire in July, which destroyed thousands of acres of forest, homes and invaluable wildlife. The most costly wildfire to suppress in American history raged on for three months, blazing more ruthlessly than ever because of the ongoing drought in California, but more largely due to global warming. The fire started because of an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park. Every corner of this great earth is in danger. We as a species pose the danger. Our heedless need for conquest lies even in the smallest of details.
I voyage to the mountainous and remote coastal area of Big Sur in an attempt to capture the intangible aspects of its absolute natural beauty. I share my photographs because I want to proclaim — I have been here, to this sacred place and I recognize it as a compass for achieving nirvana. I invite you through my images to share in a spiritual awakening. I represent this place and this experience as belonging to me, but as accessible to you through my images and through your own pilgrimages to nature.
I need to take responsibility as a person whose art is practiced in, and inspired by, Big Sur. I need to let the land heal. I need to remove my ego. I need to allow the land and its native inhabitants time to regenerate. This is the message I received from the Soberanes Fire, but the message was in fact direct from Mother Earth. For that reason, I have stayed away from Big Sur for the rest of the year, even after the fire subsided.
She told me to take time away from a place beloved to me. She told me that I am the land and the land is me. When I touch the Earth, I feel more than the dirt under my hands, I feel Her life source and energy. She is deeply hurt from our irreverence, and if we do not tread lightly, she will retaliate with a force that is greater than us. It is painful to know that we have a choice. The Earth will flourish and experience a period of wanton prosperity, whether we are here or not. If we want to be part of that growth, we need to listen to Her now, not tomorrow, and we need to do so collectively.
Nora Lowinsky was published in our Earth Issue. Buy a copy here.