A Valuable Teaching for Tough Times From Scientist Rachel Carson
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist who penned wondrous words at a small, wooden, built-in writing desk overlooking a remote piece of the rocky coast of Maine.
What Carson created at that humble desk (and the one in her historic home in Maryland) literally changed the world.
Despite writing with the burden of aggressive cancer, Carson managed to complete and promote Silent Spring in the nick of time.
She finished it before she herself was whisked off this watery planet in 1964.
Silent Spring ignited the environmental movement and is considered Carson’s most important work.
But Carson’s obscure and arguably “least important” work is my personal favorite.
It was published posthumously in 1965.
The Sense of Wonder is a thin volume inspired by and dedicated to Carson’s youngest nature exploring buddy; her orphaned grand-nephew Roger (whom she was fostering .)
Before she got ill Carson and young Roger spent many moonlit nights exploring wonders together outside her Maine cottage.
If you are struggling today: feeling overwhelmed in the midst of our current political chaos or lacking the confidence to achieve a dream or just make it through work — I hope this passage about fairy godmothers from Carson’s book on wonder will be a little lamp at the end of your tunnel.
Passage from The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.
It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring is dimmed and lost before we reach adulthood.
If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
Lesson for Artists and Writers
Let Rachel Carson’s wish wash over you.
Let it reconnect you to your source of strength and renew your wonder.
Wonder is a kind of superpower of artists and scientists.
Unlike most adults, we still have full access to wonder because we refused to officially “grow up.”
At times we face some ridicule and judgement for our “childlike” ways but the upside is this; wonder is always just beneath our surface, waiting for us to call on it and access its restorative magic.
My wish for you today is that you be able to remember to tap into and cloak yourself in “a sense of wonder so indestructible that no sterility, negativity, or disenchantment can get through.”
Keep believing in beauty.
Look at all it’s given you already in your creative life.
Try to get outside for five minutes today to clear your cache and restart the wonder machine within you.
A city park tree or even a sidewalk elm can be a great gift when we need to just hang on. Because as Carson wisely said:
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”— Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
To read a beautifully written essay on “Silver Ledges,” Carson’s windswept, magical seaside cottage in Southport Maine, go here.
Have you read Silent Spring?
What do you think about Rachel Carson?
Has she been an inspiration or hero to you too?
Has she touched your heart in some way?
Let me know in the comments please, I would love to hear.
Thanks for reading and caring about Carson’s important work.
If you liked this post you might like to read my post on O’Keeffe, Dali, Vincent van Gogh , Hopper & Matisse , Beatrice Wood or Frida Kahlo.
2 minute Video version of this Rachel Carson article from The Charmed Studio Youtube Channel