Wonder relies on curiosity, a word derived from “care.” Rachel Carson knew that wonder is a prerequisite for responding to the world with delight and sensitivity. She revealed how the possibility of discovery inhabits each moment. She encouraged everyone to engage the senses. Her book The Sense of Wonder is essential reading for every parent, grandparent or teacher, for anyone who desires to be fully alive and share that.
I first read the book when I was teaching schoolchildren and took to heart Carson’s quote, “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.” I mostly work with adults these days and find the same need applies to them, and to me. Upon entering a teaching space, my focus shifts depending on whether I am present as teacher, assistant or student. Really, the roles are rolled into one: wonderer.
Each of us reaches out and receives experience based on our umwelt, the collective environmental factors that influence an individual. In The View from the Oak, Herbert Kohl and Judith Kohl acknowledge, “It is difficult to understand the umwelt of creatures that have different sense and sizes than ours. It is tempting to interpret animal life in terms of human images….We have to be cautious and work our way slowly into the worlds of animals. Patience is necessary, and absolute silence. You have to learn how to be in the presence of animals without disturbing them, and to be able to distinguish slight differences between animals of the same species.”
When we explore shapes and breathing in a yoga asana, we patiently practice working our way into noticing slight differences in our own bodies and mental states (as student) and in others (as teacher). Mayhap these skills transfer into sensitivity to others–friends, strangers, animals, people–as we enter and exit their spheres.
More on wonder.