Thanks to the gravitational pull of this watery planet, my feet have been planted, firmly and gracefully, on a shifting landscape of land and water.
This firm anchorage has afforded me the leisure of appreciating and participating in an inspirational vista: that of nature's infinite and intricate grandeur.
Among the many artistic, literary, scientific, and spiritual sources that have guided me in my enjoyment and understanding of nature, two twentieth century thinkers in particular have encouraged my pilgrimage through the natural world by way of their compelling writing:
• Boris Pasternak (February 10, 1890 - May 30, 1960) and
• Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 - April 18, 1955).
Smuggled out of the former Soviet Union in 1957, Doctor Zhivago was first published in Milan, Italy. The next year, on October 23, 1958, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to the historical, romantic epic's author, Boris Pasternak, in recognition of his dual achievements as a contemporary lyrical poet and as a writer in the "great Russian epic tradition."
In the sweeping tale of Russia in the first half of the twentieth century, Boris poetically yet succinctly nuances the charismatic idealism of Lara Guichard, one of the main trio in Doctor Zhivago, through her rapport with nature:
"For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment, and to call each thing by its right name. By its right name."
Widely recognized as a genius in his lifetime, physicist and violinist Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Forty-four years after his death, his still familiar image closed the twentieth century by gracing the December 31, 1999, cover of Time magazine as "Person of the Century."
Through interviews and writings, Albert imparted a sense of awe at and oneness with the natural world. In a tributary biography which aired in 1991 on A&E Network (Arts and Entertainment), Hanna Loewy Kahler (September 20, 1925 – March 31, 2007), stepdaughter of Albert's colleague and friend at Princeton University, Erich von Kahler (October 14, 1885 – June 28, 1970), recalled Albert's comforting words to his stepdaughter Margot Lowenthal Einstein (December 3, 1899 - July 8, 1986) after the death of his sister Maria "Maja" Einstein Winteler (November 18, 1881 - 1951):
"Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."