A Sense of Wonder
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in – Rachel Carson in A Sense of Wonder.
It started out with tiny little nature walks that I would take kids on, through the tree-lined bylanes and parks of Mumbai in the late-1970s. “Why do leaves fall? How long do butterflies live? Don’t animals feel cold without clothes? How do tigers sleep when it is raining? How does such a big tree come out of such a small seed?”
I was not an expert (am still not), but the kids and I shared something in common – curiosity. And, because the questions would come in thick and fast, the search for answers set me on a quest of discovery that seems to have only just begun. Three decades, two magazines, several books and gazillions of nature walks later, the more I know the more I realise I do not know. And I am left speechless with gratitude to Rachel Carson for this one passage from her Sense of Wonder. It is still the skeleton that binds the sinews of my purpose.
Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the sprint. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.
Thank you Rachel Carson.
by Bittu Sahgal, First published in Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXIX, No. 2, April 2009