Wonder is my Kale

In an interview with Krista Tippet, Sylvia Earle, said….

“That’s the joy of being a scientist and explorer. You do what little children do. You ask questions like: Who? What? Why? When? Where? How? And you never stop, and you never cease being surprised. It’s just impossible to be bored.”

I stumbled upon one of my unpublished blog posts from a few years ago where I ponder on my admiration of passionate people. Here is a snippet..

One thing I can say about myself with utmost certainty is that I am passionate.  ( With great passion comes great disappointment. 🙂 )

I feel happiest around dreamers – those who envision futures not only for themselves but also for the ecosystems they inhabit. Who spend their lives reforming, re-configuring this vision. I’ve been fortunate enough to have met many such people. Some, I find are passionate about the smaller, more intricate things in life, others about the universe. These are people who never stop trying to improve their minds, motivations and the world around them. Naive as it may sound, it is this relentlessness in people that drives me to find my own passion.

I wrote this on Nov 21 2014. As I read it back to myself, I infer that it is not passion I am exploring, but wonder. Passion is but a part of it – a sizable subset but a subset nonetheless.

Listening to Sylvia Earle speak about the ocean with such awe – ‘inner space’, as she calls it – I am reminded of how wonder is so integral to my being. It is integral to my admiration of other beings.

Wonder
a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable
.

Imbued with curiosity, awe and humility, wonder amplifies an inquiry rooted in knowing that one knows not enough and in an openness to let another surprise us. The loss of wonder often incapacitates me – tipping me off into poignant spirals of existential questioning.

I hold in me an optimism that is not always ‘optimistic’. While I understand that optimists can be not-optimistic in ‘shitty times’, it is not an argument convincing enough for my endeavor to mathematize this. As I further meditate on this, I see that it is not optimism but wonder that is the true anchor for me. Debilitating wonder is directly proportional to diminishing optimism.

We talk about optimism like we speak of love – as a single, absolute entity. You either have it or you don’t. Like all love is the same, or everyone that is optimistic might find one universal system to analyse a situation. People are optimistic about different things, in distinct ways, for different reasons. Surely, something so subjective must be unique enough not to box into one universal definition.

In the act of purchasing a salad at a salad bar, one makes decisions about what ingredients they might want based on how they feel that day, knowing that the outcome of the purchase will always be a salad. Optimism is not one thing but a time-bound configuration of a multitude of factors. I have known my optimism to be a product of many thoughts, feelings, objects and actions – wonder being my kale.

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