Laying alone under the stars in a field of grass, it’s easy to be in the moment. To wonder over the beauty of it all. The smell of the air, and the taste of it. The sound of distant animals and human activity. The feel of the grass poking up through your socks.
If you understand the culture in which you live, you can also appreciate how amazing it is that you can lay outside, unprotected, without fear of being mauled by a mountain lion or attacked by a fellow human. The massive effort it took from generation to generation to clear that space for you, and to make it safe for stargazing, is worthy of awe, just like the sky. Effort invested throughout human history, from tools to agriculture to civilization to laws to advanced technologies, led to that one moment, in that field, under those stars.
Step back further and the moment becomes even more impressive. If you understand the biological hopscotch that had to occur to develop organic cells, genetic building blocks, multi-celled organisms, life as we know it, and the long, plodding process that led to us, and the grass, and the mountain lions you don’t have to be afraid of, your moment intensifies in richness that much more.
If you understand geology and astronomy and all the other sciences and studies that help us understand the massive but infinitely complex world we live in and marvel over, each star becomes just one point in an amazing, utterly complex masterpiece. A moment in time becomes a work of art. Not because it’s all so mysterious, but because you’ve looked closer and learned to appreciate the brush strokes.
Knowledge is not where wonder ceases to exist. It’s where real wonder begins.
Update: February 26, 2017
I find the more I learn about more things, the more interesting and awe-inspiring the world becomes. I stare at bugs a lot more now than I used to, not just because I know more about bugs, but because I understand why, if they’re small enough, they can’t break the tension of the surface of a rain drop, and how their brains can be so small and yet result in such complex instinctual behavior.