Commusings: Gratitude Revealed by Louie Schwartzberg

May 12, 2023

Dear Commune Community,

As humans, we are designed to notice things in the forefront of our awareness. It’s part of our biological imperative for survival to detect an oncoming automobile or charging ungulate. So, we label those things – Ferraris and hippopotami. But when we look over the shoulder at life, what have we overlooked? 

For four decades, Louie Schwartzberg has captured the miracles that are hidden in plain sight. His celebration of the uncelebrated applies both to obscure flora and fungi and unknown musicians and barbers. 

Recently, I came across a wee plant sprouting from an old tennis ball. By God, I thought, nature is irrepressible. I daydreamed of some future earth without Homo Sapiens (wise humans?) in which a rain forest effloresced in an abandoned Macy’s. 

It’s easy to become pessimistic and numb in the face of the enormity of the world’s problems. But Louie reminds us of the eternal reliability of nature. Nature is somewhere we can put our faith, not as belief in the absence of evidence, but as trust in its inexorable quest to birth life. 

We are of the same stuff as flowers and trees. Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus. These elements, forged in the crucibles of distant stars, self-assembled into towering redwoods and tiger lilies and into you and into me. The only appropriate response is gratitude.

Here at [email protected] and prowling the Serengeti of IG @jeffkrasno.

In love, include me,

Gratitude Revealed by Louie Schwartzberg

We are all born with a sense of wonder. Sometimes it’s triggered by astonishing feats. Monuments to mankind’s capabilities, extraordinary talents and gifts, or scientific discoveries that push the boundaries of comprehension. But more often, we experience wonder by truly seeing the world around us.

Wonder and curiosity drive us to explore because we are surrounded by things we can’t see, and that triggers our imagination, inspiring art and science. I love making the invisible visible. Using the art of time lapse and slow motion cinematography, I can stretch the imagination by creating journeys through portals of time and scale. 

Being able to see the world from a different perspective changes your worldview. It broadens your horizons. To see the world from the point of view of a flower, a hummingbird or a redwood tree makes you really understand that we have these narrow windows that we look through and if we can begin to expand our vision, it opens up your heart and feeds your mind and your soul.

Once I found my voice with film and photography, I met my greatest teacher — Mother Nature. She taught me everything about lighting, composition, color, texture, movement. And to this day I’m still learning from the master.  

Plants and flowers are constantly in motion, but you can’t see it with your own eyes until you see it with time lapse film. I could talk forever about how plants move, or how a flower does a ballet twirl when it opens, but until you see it, you won’t be able to feel it and be moved. Every living being has its own metabolic rate. And I find the right frame rate to unveil the mystery. My camera is a time machine that takes us on adventures of discovery to connect with universal rhythms and patterns we recognize as truth in our souls.

Most entertainment is based on fear and violence, and we have to stop putting that negative energy into our hard drive, into our brain and our body.  Just for a moment, we need to turn it off and say, “What can I be grateful for?”

Gratitude can pull you out of a negative spiral and point you in a positive direction that will enable you to escape despair and disconnection. Gratitude shifts your consciousness to being the change you want to be and bring into this world. 

There is always something you can be grateful for. You are breathing, you have fingers that move, you have eyes that can absorb the beauty that surrounds you. I want people to open up to the feeling of inter-connection, that we are nature, that there is a oneness to the universe.

If appreciation is what we feel in the moment, gratitude is what we remember that opens our hearts. And, the practice of gratitude helps us to build resilience. Resilience isn’t just how we bounce back from challenges or tough times. It’s also about how we prepare ourselves for them.

So how do we prepare for resilience? Through the genuine practice of gratitude. And, how do we cultivate a deep gratitude practice? Nature provides beautiful operating instructions all around us, inviting us and welcoming us with delight. It is such a gift to witness nature’s magic – whether it’s a blade of grass growing in the crack of a sidewalk to a breathtaking sunset or a vast landscape that makes you feel small in a grand universe.

There have been some exciting studies showing the beneficial impact of what I call “Visual Healing.” And studies showing the negative impact of what is called “Nature Deficit Disorder.” Nature slows you down, and when you slow down you become more patient. You become rich in time. When was the last time you felt rich in time? Being in the moment is bliss, and blowing your mind is a cathartic experience that is good for you. It makes you kinder, more generous, and makes life more satisfying.

We need a new story. Let’s let go of the old macho story of kill or be killed, survival of the fittest. What we need now more than ever is the feminine story, survival of the kindest, the stories of  connections, rebirth, nurturing, relationships, and regeneration. Stress is easily triggered by fear and anxiety, sending adrenaline and dis-ease throughout your body. But the healing response is just as easily triggered in the body. And when you experience nature, you are in the moment. You experience the divine and you discover gratitude with each breath. 

This is nature’s gift to us. Nature does not preach. She is patient and tolerant, ready to be in a harmonious relationship with us. She provides lessons that open us up to nature’s wisdom, which evolved over billions of years. Underground mycelium networks share nutrients and information between trees and plants — and that lack of greed allows life to flourish. 

Communities survive better than individuals. Nothing lives alone in nature. I also love the story of the monarch butterfly, the miracle of how the great-grandchildren somehow know to come “home” flying 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico to a place they have never seen. Nature is so much more powerful than we can possibly imagine; wonder, awe and gratitude are the emotions we feel when we are present. 

I’d like to think I help in some small way to share Nature’s splendors with audiences. By capturing these magic moments, I want to inspire people to celebrate Life. Beauty is nature's tool for survival because we protect what we love. I have dedicated my life to creating immersive experiences so you can feel what I have felt behind the lens, in rapture with nature’s wonders. 

In gratitude,
Louie Schwartzberg


Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer who has spent his notable career providing breathtaking imagery using his time-lapse, high-speed and macro cinematography techniques. He tells stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people, and places.

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