Micaela Unda
Student, Duke University, Environmental Science and Policy Major
Woodland, California, United States

Wonder and Awe.

“For even if the whole world cried, I don’t know if there would be enough water.”

Dear those filled with wonder, those filled with awe,

Oh my dear how I hope that you, as a child of the future, are able to read this letter amongst the towering ponderosa pines that call for endless sky towards which to climb. How I wish for you to read this letter aside crashing waves that fill you with reverence rather than trembling fear. How I dream of you reading this letter with the sounds of nature in your ears and fresh air in your lungs. Yet, it grieves me to say that if we kept on our path of destruction, apathy, ignorance, and disregard, such scenes of beauty may not be before you today.

For in the midst of a world where those surrounding me would rather be on the fringes of somewhere than in the middle of nowhere, our grip on nature has slipped from admirer and advocate to careless bystander, unconnected and unconcerned. As a student surrounded by the great minds of my generation, I am fortunate enough to walk the halls of the future leaders and have the privilege of being taught by Nobel Chemistry Prize winners. My peers are bright and curious and contemplative and innovative, and yet, so very unaware.

As I sit in labs of erlenmeyers, centrifuges, gloves, and goggles, I pray that our efforts of algae-based biofuel may just reduce our crippling dependence on oil. And I pray that my work towards shedding light on this suffocating, parching drought that is ripping my home state apart may just result in a drop saved. For even if the whole world cried, I don’t know if there would be enough water. But most of all, I pray that those around me may just begin to notice the ephemerality of their surroundings.

This is where you come in my dear. I refuse to accept that those filled with wonder and awe have faded away as quickly as the nature that surrounds me now. As I sat beneath the shade of redwoods saved by those before me, with Wild in hand, I was reminded to put myself in the way of beauty. You now must do the same. Remember that we are not untouchable beings separate from the environment. Remember that you can do what we did not– you can care.

With all my hope,