Stacy’s Book Note: The Sense of Wonder

sense of wonder
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

As our lives get busier and our reliance on technology grows, our connection with nature becomes even more precious. As I’ve done in the past, I’ve opted for a quick and easy read as summer approaches. This time, I’m hoping key takeaways from The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson will help you get outdoors as much as you can.

Originally an essay, this beautiful book was posthumously re-published with photos from Nick Kelsh. In it, Rachel Carson, renowned ecologist, environmentalist, science writer and author Silent Spring, urges parents to take their children into the wild and makes a case for fostering in them a sense of wonder.

Using her arguments, however, I would like to urge adults to also cultivate their own sense of wonder. Given the research on the value of nature (as this study suggests), I’m hoping it will inspire you (as the book did for me) a new way to simply explore the natural world around us.

I’ll let her words compel you.

First, her wish for all children can also be a wish for all of us:

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

Second, a compelling reason why a sense of wonder is so important:

“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.”

Next, two suggestions on how to do this:

“Exploring nature … is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you. It is learning again to use your eyes, ears, nostrils and finger tips, opening up the disused channels of sensory impression. For most of us, knowledge of our world comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”

“I have made no conscious effort to name plants or animals nor to explain to him {Rachel Carson’s young nephew}, but have just expressed my own pleasure in what we see, calling his attention to this or that but only as I would share discoveries with an older person…. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.”


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