Article: Men’s Journal on being lost at sea

Harbour swimming in Denmark
Harbour swimming in Denmark

Men’s Journal (I’m allowed to read it!) reports on a Walt and Christopher, a father and son swept out to sea while swimming off a beach in Florida. Christopher is autistic, and his son’s lack of verbal communication and feedback presents an additional challenge to his father as they struggle to survive.

Walt has tried to imagine what that night was like for Christopher. He has imagined it repeatedly, in his sleep, at his work, in his rented hotel suite with the curtains drawn, the empty plastic soup containers on the counter. He has imagined Christopher giggling and splashing, the fish touching his back and arms; Christopher staring in awe at the dolphin snouts and falling stars, soothed by the foam tops of the waves; has imagined the whole night was like this one big adventure, the biggest adventure Christopher will ever have in his life, floating on his back as the water warmed his ears, in wonder as the sounds changed beneath the surface; has imagined that those sounds captivated his son’s imagination, and that since Christopher loves to float and swim more than anything, perhaps he even had fun. And the phosphorescence, the most colorful thing, he hopes it passed his son in a trail on the top of the water, long and thin, sparkling there like something hopeful; prays that Christopher got to see it. He has to believe he did. He can just picture Christopher sticking his hand in the filmy substance, holding it up to the moonlight, slick and shiny and Disney green. In fact, he cannot bring himself to imagine anything else. Walt aches for the day, a day that will probably never come, when he’ll be able to actually talk to Christopher, and ask him about what he saw and what he felt and what he was thinking, how he survived.

Read the full article here.

Bookshelf: The Sense of Wonder

The Sense of Wonder – Rachel Carson

The Sense of Wonder
The Sense of Wonder

American conservationist Rachel Carson wrote several other books, three of which – ocean-related – I have reviewed here (The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and Under the Sea-Wind). The Sense of Wonder was published after Carson’s death, in 1965.

This book isn’t particularly about the ocean, but is concerned with sharing the natural world with children. It’s a slim volume that can be read in one sitting, illustrated with magnificent yet simple photographs of nature. Carson adopted her nephew when he was five years old, and in this book she describes her adventures with him: stepping carefully through rockpools on the sea shore, or marching through a forest in the rain.

Carson’s central thesis is that knowledge of scientific names and reams of facts are not essential for appreciation of the world around us. All that is required is curiosity and the ability to be amazed, to wonder at things.

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 even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all 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 disenchantment of later year… The alienation from the sources of our strength.

I think this book shoud be essential reading for parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. You can throw in babysitters, older siblings, teachers and anyone else who interacts with children.

You can get this book for your kindle here, otherwise here, here or here (the last link is for if you’re in South Africa).