It’s passages like these that make me love Richard Dawkins,
After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked – as I am surprisingly often – why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?
The poet Kathleen Raine, who read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, specializing in Biology, found related solace as a young woman unhappy in love and desperate for relief from heartbreak:
Then the sky spoke to me in language clear, familiar as the heart, than love more near. The sky said to my soul, ‘You have what you desire! ‘Know now that you are born along with these clouds, winds, and stars,
and ever-moving seas and forest dwellers. This your nature is. ‘Lift up your heart again without fear, sleep in the tomb, or breathe the living air, this world you with the flower and with the tiger share.’
– Richard Dawkins, Unweaving The Rainbow