Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Baobab Spark

There are moments in our life when we suddenly see our world in a different light, when our perspective changes and our life takes a new course. In my life, one of these moments occurred during the third or fourth grade when, leafing through my first geography text, I came upon the photo of a giant baobab tree. An African family was living in its hollowed trunk and a caption related that this massive "tree of life" provided many of their needs, including food, water, shelter and materials for clothing and rope.

Having a rather sheltered view of the planet at that time, I was fascinated by the photo, the image of which remains clear in my mind almost fifty years later. At that moment, I was seeing a baobab tree for the first time but, more importantly, realized that there were many exotic species and places out there that I knew nothing about. Geography soon became my favorite subject and, over the years, spawned my interest in the varied disciplines of earth science.

Of course, some of us are more receptive to these moments, based on our genes, our experience and the influence of others. But, if we make the effort to look back, we can all remember people, places and events that had a profound impact on our lives. The baobab photo was certainly a spark for me.