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What is a Good Life? #41
Lessons From The Wild with Mark Smith
On the 41st episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I am delighted to welcome Mark Smith of Mark Smith Photography as our guest. Mark is a wildlife photographer, videographer, and storyteller whose stunning work has amassed a huge online following with hundreds of millions of views on YouTube and elsewhere.
In this episode, Mark shares with us his sense and experiences of flow from his work. We reflect on the beauty and awe of both the wild and being present with it. He talks about the inspiration he takes from nature regarding the seemingly insurmountable odds and significant obstacles he sees being faced every day.
Mark also shares a touching and surreal account of his communication with a family of Cranes that later provided him with inspiration, perspective, and supported his healing when dealing with his own personal tragedy of suddenly losing his wife (see clip 🎬 below).
Like his work, this discussion gives us insight into a world that most of us could greatly benefit from experiencing more often. This episode also offers a unique perspective on observing and navigating the cycles of life, and the joys and hardships that go with it.
(We recorded this episode during the summer with Mark in the woods, so it is fittingly accompanied by the intermittent chirping sounds of nature)
The weekly clip from the podcast (2 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (49 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
Throughout this conversation, Mark points out the repeated inspiration he gains from observing the wild and the insurmountable challenges and odds faced every day.
Not only does this help him let go of the daily stresses we often exaggerate in our lives, but he also drew inspiration from it when he experienced the sudden loss of his wife of 25 years (see clip above).
In my interviews with so many people, especially the anonymous conversations at the start of this project, numerous individuals had tragedies and sadness to speak of—losing people they loved, experiencing internal or external suffering—yet somehow they continued to go on.
There’s a famous line from Samuel Beckett that I once saw in neon lights in an art gallery in Miami years ago, and it has been etched into my brain ever since:
"I can’t go on. I’ll go on."
There is something remarkable about the striving in animals and humans to survive, whether within the context of our lives or in handling adversity, pain, rejection, destruction, and suffering, and to persevere. How often we face circumstances that make us feel completely defeated, momentarily lost, and disillusioned, only to carry on.
While we continue to be a highly flawed and staggeringly contradictory species, humans are simultaneously both the most violent and altruistic species on the planet. I continue to remain in awe of our capacity to persevere, which, for me, is needed in facing up to the wretched horror we inflict on each other as well.
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3. Full Episode - Lessons From The Wild with Mark Smith - What is a Good Life? #41
4. This week’s Questions
From your own experiences, in what way has nature helped you heal or rejuvenate yourself? Could you benefit from more time in nature?
What lessons has observing nature taught you about life?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed over 150 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.