The Importance of Feeling Wonder

Why marveling at nature might be good for you

“I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become. He reached out to me and to countless others, inspiring so many of us.”

Race and a generation may have separated the two scientists, but their love for the Universe was bound by a mutual respect and admiration of astronomy. When Carl Sagan began his original PBS series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” in 1980, he approached it with that same sense of awe and wonder, inspiring millions of people around the world and becoming the most recognizable scientist on the planet.

“Our contemplation of the cosmos stirs us; there’s a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation as of a distant memory of falling from a great height, we know we are approaching the grandest of mysteries.” — Carl Sagan

There is only so much ‘wow factor’ in our own reflections

We are now so predisposed towards narcissism that we barely see the mechanics of it at work. In fact, we are living through a narcissism epidemic. Materialistic attitudes have exploded. Grandiosity and self-focused personalities are on the rise as we compare, judge and seek approval — striving to be noticed and taken seriously in a world now shaped through social media and driven by celebratory status.

To see the world with childlike eyes, first takes a willingness to look beyond ourselves

I’ve often wondered why the happiest people I know are often travelers. I have a good friend who’s been in constant travel mode for years, and she’s highly spirited and always wears a smile.

In this Voyager 1 image the Earth is a mere point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Our planet was caught in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the Sun.

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” — Carl Sagan

The late Carl Sagan believed that a sense of wonder was paramount if we were to evolve into a more unified species. For Sagan, science was far more than equations and physics — it satisfied something more intrinsic … that we could experience a sense of awe through a multitude of mediums, as long as we continue to learn. What he called, the innate and insatiable curiosity of the human species.

Writer and wayfarer of a digital age. I write articles concerning writing, self, society and well-being. @JakobRyce | |

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