Wonder and Learning

What part of you, your experiences, or your background explain you and your fit in the community?

I have been pricked a thousand times by them. They always get stuck in the bottom of my favorite running shoes and I can count the scars I have from brushing up against them. Growing up in Arizona, I cannot remember ever having a lack of cacti.When my cross country team ran desert trails, I recall having to skip and stretch like I was playing hopscotch because of the chollas littering the ground. Rows of them wave at you from the sides of the highway and make homes in your front and back yard.

Besides the constant sight of saguaros and feeling their thorns all through my childhood, I never really knew much about cacti or felt astonished by them until I went on a hike that deepened my sense of wonder. During an evening hike with some of my friends, I remember coming around the side of a switchback to see a saguaro standing against the sunset and staring at it with a novel view. The sight of the cactus would usually be somewhat boring to me, just another prickly plant to avoid, but that day it stuck in my gaze and I started to think of it in a way I had not ever before. My eyes scanned the saguaro and instead of its thorns pricking my skin, they pierced my thoughts. I wondered why the thorns were formed how they were. I realized that they were designed as a part of a system, that they acted for the end of protecting the cactus. I thought that cacti are not aware of the world and are not rational but they were made with thorns, which are the parts of them that take into account predators. I deduced that there was some order and agency within them.

The idea that nature produced a defense against predators,without being a conscious being, seized me and displayed for me the idea of nature acting for an end. In that couple hour hike, I trekked the trail but also wandered upon wonder. Instead of seeing a cactus as another average and mundane object, my wonder sparked inquiry and led me to view strong saguaros and prickly pears as having knowledge and philosophy within them.

This experience has made me realize that even things which are not immediately impressive can be little phenomena. Conceiving of cacti in a new and deeper way caused me to become more inquisitive and view the world as my classroom. I have carried my wonder into school seminars, used it to understand my Polish roots with a new significance, appreciate people as more multifaceted than I might first think and view the world as deeper than it might appear. With depth of inquiry, my interests have broadened and deepened. I started learning Polish and caring about Polish poems, books, and history with a personal devotion whereas previously I might of seen my Polish ethnicity as some surface fact about myself. By being able to explore ideas well and with an open mind, I have found that it is easier to collaborate with my peers and appreciate ideas together.

As I move forward, I plan to continue to evaluate each topic with a sense of novelty and the habit of deep textual reading and analysis. Each subject is another piece of the world waiting to be seen in a new perspective and known in a genuine way. This experience will aid me well through college but also after where I will look at each piece of work or challenge as an opportunity for insight and a panoptic vision. I will persist in my awe and appreciation of the everything around me, sharing it with others, and let the knowledge pierce my curiosity like a cactus thorn.

Leave a Comment