Henry David Thoreau said, "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." Jacques Cousteau said, "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Whether it is on land or in the sea both of these men were expressing their wonder and connection with the natural world.
Like Thoreau, I take a walk every morning around the lake behind my house. There I revel in the sounds of the forest. The rustling of the trees in the gentle breeze, the birds chirping and singing, the squirrels single-mindedly uncovering the nuts they stashed earlier in the week or even earlier in the year. This time of year I also pass by the mother duck guiding her little ones on their journey to adulthood, the Canada goose parents that inevitably hiss, fiercely protecting their goslings, or the garter snake slithering across the trail. Sometimes I am startled, as I was this week, when I rounded the corner only to see a coyote crossed the trail. S/he paused at the edge of the forest and looked back at me. For a moment, with both of us acknowledging the other, I felt a deep sense of camaraderie with him or her. Here we were, two species, simply trying to make our way in the world.
That is exactly what the project "Pod Tune" (listen here) captures. How we, together with other species are on a common journey through life. As one of three producers and owner of Pollinator Media Group, Rob Ganger said about "Pod Tune," "We wanted to create experiences of reverence for nature and all of the species that live here. A sense of wonder and awe can go a long way to solving some of the massive environmental issues we face."
What is "Pod Tune"? It is a partnership between humans and humpback whales. As Ganger explains:
"With 'Pod Tune,' we asked artists from around the world to utilize the whale songs that we gave them to create a collaboration with the whales. To utilize the whales as an instrument, or voice, to give the songs deeper human context to try and feel what they are singing about. To feel their grandeur and otherworldliness in a way that deeply resonates with the human listener."
The result? A hauntingly beautiful album with 13 distinct songs featuring artists and whales. My favorite is Ugis Praulins' "Valis." I swell with feelings of melancholy and hope when listening to the seemingly effortless combination of music and humpback whales in this song. Others, like Mikael Jorgensen's "Marine Layers" fill me with a sense of excitement and energy, of a life full of possibilities.
Yet the power of "Pod Tune" goes beyond simply striving to change how we interact with the environment and other species. Listening to and communing with nature affects our health, both physical and psychological. A review by Keniger and colleagues in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (see article) reveals that there are substantial physical, psychological, cognitive, and social benefits to interacting with nature. Not only may having an intimate relationship with the natural world make one generally feel better and reduce stress, but it also helps us recover from injury faster and reduce mortality rates after illness. This applies to adults and children. Fostering a sense of connection for your children will improve their quality of life well into adulthood.
The wonderful thing is that this relationship with nature can be created simply by looking out a window at natural scenery, watching fish swim in a tank, taking a walk surrounded by the sounds, smells, and sights of the wilderness, or simply listening to the sounds of nature, like those in "Pod Tune." Regardless of the form it takes, it is beneficial, it is restorative, and it is necessary.
To get your copy of "Pod Tune" and find out more about how you can support their vision of creating more inter-species peace, love and understanding, visit "Pod Tune" - the album or visit them on Facebook. All net proceeds benefit organizations such as The Ocean Alliance and The Blue Mind Project. For more about Pollinator Media and Rob Ganger visit http://pollinatormedia.com and follow him on Twitter @pollinatorbuzz.