Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tropic Islands

A Sense of Wonder :
the greatest legacy any parent can leave his child is a sense of wonder. If it were the only thing that he is given, the child will naturally go on to discover by himself the rest of what life is about. And in his own journey of discovery, he will be educated and become wise. A child with a voracious sense of wonder is always in awe of life's beauties, always overwhelmed by life's bounty. He is never bored or lonely, because every unfolding moment reveals a new surprise. Life incessantly offers more, for him to engage in, to let him grow, no matter his actual circumstances. There is nothing to stop anyone from marveling at the sky-at dawn's and twilight's splendor, those heavenly colors, the moving clouds, those stars by night. Anyone can feel the rain on his face and ponder on the long journey of every drop, its many transformations - from the sea to the sky and back to earth. It does not have to cost anything either to listen to the wind, whether it blows with a majestic voice through a forest or resonates a lulling chorus among the steel and concrete structures of the city. There's always a place where nature thrives-in a meadow or in a park or in a golf course - anywhere! The magnificence of nature is evident even where there's only a swamp or grass or sand or wind or sky. Beauty is everywhere. A child sees the mystery of nature in everything. Even at home, in a pot of earth by the gutter, he finds an opportunity to see the wonder of a growing seed. He sees wonderful colors projected in a glass of water by the window under the afternoon sun. An army of ants pulling a dead cockroach beneath the kitchen table is a sight to captivate his attention for quite a while. We all need the eyes of a child to see the world as if we've never seen it before or like we'll never see it again. We need ears of a child to hear the song of crickets or a bird singing amid the noise that have long dulled our hearing. There is so much more to life than we ordinarily experience, so much more than the monotonous sounds of machines and what our bored eyes have grown used to see. There are countless other life forms on this planet that we know of or have seen. There are many creatures we're unable to connect with because we are either too busy or too lazy to notice, to look or listen closely enough. The beauty of life is not limited to size. A louse on a street child's head or the rainbow of colors that forms on a drop of sweat holds as much wonder as Mt. Matterhorn or the pyramids of Egypt. On some Sundays, I try to find a place away from the traffic snarls. Most of the time that special place is a park. Sometimes it's just my room. Then I listen, and I hear all of life speaking. I hear a sweet melancholy in the distant whistling of the swallows. I become keenly aware of small insects that twitter all around. These creatures are directed by forces beyond their choice or refusal, but they never complain. These life forms do not seek beyond nature's provisions, yet are too grateful to give back to nature whatever ration of good they get from it. Such profound experience is not possible without fresh, childlike sensitivity. The child in us dwells among the beauties and mysteries of the planet. The person who is in touch with this part of his being never feels alone or weary of life. Whatever the pains and difficulties of our personal lives, the child within us continues to hold a dogged sense of optimism that can lead us to inner contentment and a renewed excitement in living. There is symbolic meaning as well as actual purpose in the changing of the seasons, the coming and going of the tides, the daybreaks and the sunsets. There is something infinitely healing in the constant repetitions of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and the sun after the rain. The child may not consciously comprehend all this, but it is in his nature to know that everything is connected. There is reason, too, why a feeling always shows in a person's eyes. Our common nature has a mysterious way of breaking through our cultured expressions. Our inner truths surface so that we may share each other's sadness or joy. But we need the innate wisdom of a child to rise over our selfish preoccupations, to fully understand what great power a simple touch has for healing the pain of a fellowman, how a friendly smile can lift the spirit of a weary stranger. The same precious legacy we can leave to a beloved child we can give to ourselves. We must nurture our own sense of wonder by keeping in touch with the child within us all. We must keep the fires of amazement and admiration burning, to keep our spirits soaring, to make the most of every second of our time, so that our life may be filled up by each passing moment. And realize how immensely lucky we are.

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