An invitation to wonder

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

As she sat in a tree, a little bird heard a passerby ask another, “What is your philosophy of life?”

She was amused, just by the awareness that she had never asked this question to herself before. She asked the tree, “What is your philosophy of life?” The tree replied, matter of factly, “To grow”. She asked the squirrel, who said, “To run around”, and ran away. She continued her research, getting responses like, ‘to collect honey’; ‘to eat grass whole day’; ‘to swallow frogs’.

She was disappointed. To her all these responses seemed like what each one liked to do or actually did the whole day. This cannot be philosophy. It had to be something more, something profound, something which questioned our actions, not defined them.

tree-&-bird She searched out the good old donkey and asked him, “O wise sir, I have been trying to find what the philosophy of life is, please enlighten me.” The old donkey chuckled aloud, “So, so, so, we have a philosopher amidst us.”

Our little bird was not amused, “But sir, I am not a philosopher. I do not have a philosophy.”

“Oh ho no,” the old donkey looked lovingly at the bird and replied, “The one who has a philosophy is not a philosopher. The one who wonders, who wanders, who whys and whats and hows – she is a philosopher. The one who is confused and is humble enough to remain so, is a philosopher.”

The bird was quiet for a little while, thinking, then she asked, “But why philosophy, why philosopher?” The old donkey smiled, “We’re a little bit of everything, a little scientist, a little explorer, a little maker and a little breaker, a little dreamer and a little….”

“But why a little philosopher?” Our little bird was persistent.

“Dear, I too do not have an answer,” the old donkey swayed his head side to side, “But I must say, it’s fun to wonder, it’s fun to search for meaning which isn’t necessarily out there, it’s fun to question – specially what most people think they know, but possibly do not. To me it’s like education – it’s not something you get at the end. Rather it has no end. It is something like a journey. Just like you keep learning, you keep philosophizing – your whole life.”

“I see, but what do I wonder about?” was the little bird’s next logical question.

The old donkey had done his bit of talking, so he asked the little bird back, “What would you like to wonder about, what would you like to question?”

The authors run an open unschool called Aarohi and invite all readers to visit and see how open learning can be an amazing way to work with children. They also conduct training retreats and online training for teachers and parents. Visit

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