The connection process. It is that which makes observing my 18-month-young grandson’s journey so interesting. There was one day a couple of months ago that epitomizes that. It was a windy day outside, trees moving outside. He was sitting on the floor playing looking up at the front picture window at all this activity and he started gesturing gently upward with his left arm and hand in response. Then he turned to his right in the direction of the dining room window at the other side of the house, gesturing similarly with his right arm and muttering in his primary language, explaining that what he was seeing was the same thing going on outside two different, separate windows. There even seemed to be an element of quiet awe about this private moment of consciousness.
I have carried him for some time now, during visits, to various light switches and he has enjoyed turning lights on and off. Two weeks ago we were in the living room and I walked around switching on lights and lamps. Each time he said “‘ight”. True, he had previously correctly identified single objects each time he saw them beginning with “dada” and “‘nana” (for bananas), but these two experiences I’ve recounted show something beyond simple identification. He is making connections, even (in the case of the moving trees) connecting movement or process.
I suppose I should also mention his single-time verbalization of “windy” three weeks ago when we had the front door’s window open and he noticed the peacock feathers in the vase being ruffled by the afternoon breeze through the screen.
Making connections–what we spend most of our lives doing whether it be in our learning in school, in our empathy and sympathy with acquired friends, lovers, and mates, in our choice of work and career, in our daily lives whether unfolding online or in our family, neighborhood or community.
In those connections, the emergent information, knowledge, empathy, understandings, appreciations of what passes for life and daily living. In those connections, we discover ourselves, others, nature, and the world. In those connections, we find what engages and interests us, what gives our lives meaning and purpose. We begin and later develop what is inner and personal while connecting with who or what is external and separate from us.
Thus, we begin to see and better understand the basic concept of “‘ight”. The great mythologist Joseph Campbell said “Awe is what moves us forward”, akin to what Clarke wrote and Kubrick visualized in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the moon investigators ponder the mysterious black slab or the Star-Child ponders Earth at the end of that movie–aiming first at some modicum of understanding, and later (re)acquiring connection and wonder all over again.