As a child I spent the majority of my summer days outdoors. Most of those days were spent romping through fields, splashing in streams and catching every imaginable critter that would fit inside a jar. I was mesmerized by the simple things in life. The tadpoles that grew legs and eventually turned into frogs. The wolf spider that had a bunch of wiggly black hairs attached to its back which I discovered were actually dozens of baby spiders who had hitched a ride on their mom. Then there was the occasional garter snake that would bite if you didn’t pick it up just right, behind the head. I would sit for hours with my zoo of creatures and study their habits; the way they moved, how they ate, how happy they appeared when I would eventually set them free.
Our children of today have been born into a world deluged with technology. It is unavoidable. In order to survive their future it is imperative they learn to use it, to understand it, to embrace it. In order for their tender souls to survive this ethereal universe of bits and bytes, it is extremely important they also learn to ground themselves on Terra Firma, to embrace our earth in all its glory for the sake of future generations and experience balance by learning to appreciate the little joys our natural world has to offer.
As an adult I still have that love affair with the simple wonders of this world, even though I have admittedly fallen head over heels in love with technology and spend an inordinate amount of time out in cyberspace. That virtual reality is an integral part of the career I have created for myself and is territory I must tread in order to do the things I need and want to do. I try my best to balance this digital warp-speed pimping of my soul with journeys out into the reality of nature whenever I can. Sometimes for me, all it takes is standing back to watch the natural world unfold before the eyes of a child. The memories explode from the depths of my brain cells and I am dumbstruck with the same sense of wonder I had in a world where I used to live prior to personal PC’s, iPad’s and the Web that now connects us all.
A garden snail is a simple creature from the Mullosk family with a soft, slimy body protected by a hard shell. As adults we work hard to reroute these opportunistic gastropods away from the consumption of our precious gardens and tend to view them as nothing more than a nuisance. But to a young boy the discovery of one of these slimy, unkempt creatures is par with the siting of a dinosaur and transforms immediately into the focal point of his world. There is great beauty in the viewing of those moments. They are still. They are quiet. They are wrapped up in a childlike Zen that causes the universe to disappear into that finite point in time. It is a moment where the snail becomes an extension of that child and the child becomes the snail.
It is a reminder to those of us who dwell in an adult world that is forever moving, loud and frantic, tense-filled and challenging. Just stop. Stay still for a moment and watch and wait for the miraculous to be revealed to us, as it is through the eyes of a child.