Blog: Finding My Voice

State of Wonder

Posted on September 17, 2011 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)


I recently read the book “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett. The story focuses on a doctor/researcher who is sent to Brazil to  gather information about the progress being made in the development of a new drug in a remote area of the Amazon jungle. This character is also sent to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a colleague who had previously made the same journey. What intrigued me about the book wasn’t the characters or the plot line, but the descriptions of that part of the world... intense rainstorms, lifestyles vastly different from our own, and the tremendous variety of people, plants and animal life in the Amazon jungle.  To those of us who feel stressed by problems that are really minor irritations, who are inconvenienced by changes in the weather, or who are annoyed by mosquitoes that disrupt their enjoyment of the outdoors, the book is a real eye opener.  What we consider as hardships...the loss of electricity during a storm, a plugged-up drain, the long line at the grocery store, or poor cell phone reception...are trivial compared to the harsh realities of life in other parts of the world.

     We have lost our connection with nature. Too many people look at the world as being created for humans and forget about the other forms of life that share our planet.  We pollute the water, strip the mountains and forests, destroy habitat, and kill for pleasure or personal gain...all in the name of progress, to enhance our life styles, and to give us short-term benefits that can't be sustained without further destruction of the environment. Profit, greed, and selfishness have become the gods of modern man. We have  forgotten that everything is interrelated and that by destroying one thing we set off a chain reaction with unintended and unanticipated consequences.

    We have also lost our sense of wonder.  We are often reminded to “stop and smell the roses,” but how many of us go about our daily actitivies without considering the varied forms of life that surround us? How many of us have the time or inclination to contemplate the wonders of nature, to consider the industriousness of an ant, or to watch the clouds as they float overhead?  One of my favorite activites is to sit in a chair near the small pond in my backyard with a dog on my lap and several at my feet. As I listen to the birdsong and REALLY look at all the life that surrounds me, my every day worries and complaints fade into the background. In those quiet moments I can almost imagine I hear the earth breathing.


The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.  ~Joseph Campbell