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Scheme of Things

The Art of Nature
By Nan S. Russell
Sep 10, 2012 - 6:23:04 PM

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The Grand Canyon. The Northern Lights. Glacier Park from Going to the Sun Road. It's easy to be awed by these natural wonders; to be amazed and inspired when we encounter speculator sights. These celebrity-level natural phenomenon are captured by our cameras and our hearts.

But even the lesser wonders like sunsets, sunrises, waterfalls, oceans, mountains, spring flowers, and star-filled nights offer us a soothing antidote to mounting to-do lists and imploding responsibilities when we pause our busy lives to notice them.

Still, while I find nature's arts to my liking, especially when I experience them personally, I know my view of what is and isn't spectacular has evolved. During a recent driving vacation that put over 4,600 miles on the SUV, it was the little surprises and anomalies that caught my eye, continuing to expand my sense of nature's art beyond the frequently photogenic ones.

A gnarled dead tree in a lava field at Sunset Crater National Monument, a lone Saguaro cactus with one bloom,  a pile of broken odd-shaped boulders, and a suddenly arrived upon vista filled with wildflowers were as evoking in their own way as the big wonders. Although I'll admit, I don't need much to find a spark that intrigues  me when I'm in nature.

I'm realizing it's the same in life. We expect the awe in seeing a Van Gogh or Rembrandt masterpiece or watching Olympians win gold, but finding a local artisan whose work speaks to our heart, or a culinary artist hidden in a small town dive, or an unheard of author who changes our thinking surprises us. And yet, why should we be so startled?

There are many forms of art, and many types of artisans. When what we discover is not what we expect, it's intriguing, evoking, and filled with artistry. Whether it's an ordinary-looking rock filled with bright crystals when broken opened or a talent competition unveiling the likes of a Susan Boyle, we're shocked when we find these "hidden" wonders and talents in our everyday lives.

Like a road without the appropriate map-dots designating a scenic area, we see each other without a special designation. While the next exciting view or natural wonder might be  just around the corner or off the beaten path, we don't expect the unemployed single mom we meet will be a bestselling author or that our waiter will become a household name. Too often, we fail to see nature's art in each other. We see roles, not people.

In the scheme of things,  the art of nature is everywhere - in the people and places that touch our lives. If we keep our eyes and our minds open, we find its vast wonders.

(c) 2012 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved.

Nan S. Russell is the award-winning author of "Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way." Her third book, "The Titleless Leader," was published May 2012. More about Nan and her work can be found at  Sign up to receive Nan's free monthly eColumn at:

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