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From a single leaf to tree of leaves, nature is awesome

Awesome is a word that’s bandied about a lot these days, especially in relation to sport and physical appearance.  We think it devalues the word when considered in the bigger picture.  If the passing parade of pretty people and fancy footwork is awesome, then what words do we use to describe aspects of nature on earth and the universe beyond? 

In this story by Julia Baird: ‘So much splendour and awe in our stars’, (News Review SMH, May 29-30 2021), she makes the case for paying greater attention to the nature around us and above us.

She writes, ‘Author Amu Krouse Rosenthal once wrote down some simple, arresting advice for anyone trying to figure out what to do with their life: “Pay attention to what you pay attention to. That’s pretty much all the info you need.” Which is so right and wise. Attention, in my view, is the greatest currency there is, and we must guard it and dole it out with deliberation.’

She goes on to explore the current interest in UFOs and believes there are three reasons it matters that we address the issue.

  1. There should be genuine scientific inquiry into the phenomena (sightings) to counteract conspiracy theories etc
  2. Looking to the stars and deep space is one way to unite the globe and realise we share one, small, fractured planet that we must protect
  3. Because it’s fun. Space gazing is one of the best ways to stimulate our crucial capacity for wonder.

‘It firmly nudges us to pay attention to something other than ourselves, which can be both relief and tonic. Because Krouse Rosenthal was right – and her friend and mentee John Green, the delightful author, polymath and YouTube star who quotes her in his new book The Anthropocene Review, is too.

His book is, ‘a reminder of how this plague has forced us to recognize how much joy we take from exploring the world, how many of us have switched instead to exploring local paths, streams and gardens and how a lusty kind of wonder can fuel us.

There is a global hunger to reconnect with the earth, to loosen our minds from screens and a paralyzing anxiety, to breathe, to feel small on a tiny planet.

Green, who initially wanted to be a church minister, has a fervent fan base who gulp down his writing about mental health, chronic illness – and now – wonder, acute observation and hope.

Marvelling over a leaf, he wrote, “I was reminded that aesthetic beauty is as much about how and whether you look…as (it is about) what you see. From the quark to the supernova, the wonders do not cease.

It is our attentiveness that is in short supply, our ability and willingness to do the work that awe requires.’

A good local place to find a little awe is Munibung Hill.  Being attentive to the many components that make up this lovely landscape makes the visit well worthwhile – even awesome – in the truest sense of word.

The full story is here at this link: Awe and the art of paying attention.