Destiny: How it Unraveled for Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall and Baby Flint

Jane Goodall, the famous scientist who has extensively studied chimpanzees and continues to share her findings with the world, in her autobiography Reason for Hope, tells the story of  how her destiny unraveled.

In her twenties, without a science degree, yet a profound love for animals and the natural world, she voiced her desire to the universe and her deepest wish became the driving force for her lifelong vocation:

Louis (the scientist that Goodall initially worked for) began to talk to me about his great interest in chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans…(he) was anxious to initiate a scientific study of (them). It would be difficult, he emphasized, for nothing was known; there were no guidelines for such a field of study; and the habitat was remote and rugged. Dangerous wild animals would be living there, and chimpanzees themselves were considered four times stronger than humans. I remember wondering what kind of scientist he would find for such a hurculean task.

Jane Goodall

When we returned to Nairobi from Olduvai, I continued working for Louis at the museum. But I wasn’t really happy being surrounded by dead animals, or all the killing that went on in order to get specimens for the scientific collection…I understood that dedicated staff felt that it was important to create a permanent record of life-forms that might one day vanish all together. But why was it necessary to have so many specimens of the same species of bird or rodent or butterfly?

Louis still talked about the chimpanzees from time to time. If Only I could do something like that, I thought to myself…something that involved observing and learning, and not killing. One day I blurted out: ‘Louis, I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about it because that’s just what I want to do.”

‘Jane,’ he replied, his eyes twinkling. ‘I’ve been waiting for you to tell me that. Why on earth did you think I talked about those chimpanzees to you?’

I had no training, no degree. In fact, he told me, he preferred that his chosen researcher should go into the field with a mind unbiased by scientific theory. What he had been looking for was someone with an open mind, with a passion for knowledge, with a love of animals, and with monumental patience…when he put it like that of course, I had to admit that I was the perfect choice!

And the rest is history…

All too often we fear that we will never arrive, only to find ourselves just where we need to be, at the right time.

May your dreams not lay hidden in the recesses of your mind — speak them!  And you may be amazed at what transpires.

-Team Project BeBold

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