December 25, 2014

How to Bring Back a Sense of Wonder to Our Lives.


LOST: Wonder.

It disappeared Monday night while we were watching a movie.

Wonder lights our world, and our world is much darker without it.

After a long day of Christmas decorating, we all collected our hot chocolates and snuggled together on the sofa to watch, what in our house is always the first Official Movie of the Christmas season, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Anticipation was running high (okay, mine—I love Rudolph) as we got ready to hit play.

Then it happened. Wonder disappeared.

As the movie is starting and we meet Sam, the Snowman, Sam, the Son, starts his commentary: “Wait. Which pole are they on? The North Pole? There are no trees on the North Pole! It’s not a land mass; it’s all ice! And there are no caves! There can’t be any caves! Caves are made of rock and there’s no rock on the North Pole.”

Enough already!

I said, “Please stop! You are ruining this experience for me. Can you please suspend disbelief for 40 minutes and just enjoy the movie?” Harumph.

Where did his sense of wonder go?

He’s only 10.

Both of my sons are very smart. They love to learn. They are constantly seeking new knowledge. They know all about stop-motion animation and can explain how it’s done (because they’ve done it).

If you need to know what makes a snowflake, they could tell you. When he was nine, my oldest spent 15 minutes talking to a NASA chief scientist about alternate fuel sources for rockets, and mining plutonium from asteroids. He intends to make his own computer from scratch and plans to start a Kickstarter campaign to fund it.

Last summer, my younger son entertained a table full of adults for an entire meal with his knowledge about all things under sea, and more. They know a lot of things. And I love how alive and interested and creative they are.

But is this thirst for—and 24/7 access to—knowledge killing their ability to wonder? I don’t remember the last time they said, “Wow.”

When I was their age, I spent more time outside than inside. I lived at the bottom of a hill, in a neighborhood that grew with me (we were the first house at the end of our street). I loved walking in the woods—the smells of the pine trees, seeing what looked like miles and miles of ferns covering the forest floor, making forts from fallen branches and imagining they were my future home, climbing high to the tops of the trees and looking out at the expansive landscape, wondering what was out there.

I remember walking to my best friend’s house and the two of us playing in the apple orchard, climbing the trees, eating apples and wondering about life and talking about the things 10 year old girls talk about. In the winter, I skated on tiny ponds and imagined that I was a famous figure skater at the Olympics as I looped around between the trees. I wondered what I would be when I grew up.

My favorite quote by Einstein is, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I prefer to live my life as if everything is a miracle. But life is moving really fast these days.

Where is wonder?

Is living life at this breakneck pace, with access to all that is wrong with the world at a click of the mouse or TV, 24/7, killing our ability to wonder, as well as the ability to look around every once in a while and say, “Wow”?

When was the last time you paused and noticed something wonder-full?

I sent an email to a friend, and in the end, said, “May you have a wonder-full day.” He wrote back later in the day to say how much that phrase impacted him. So much so that when he saw frost on his windshield as he was getting ready to head to work, rather than immediately rushing for the scraper and throwing on the defogger, he paused, and looked at his windshield. What he saw, he told me, was wondrous. So much so, that he photographed it and texted it to me.

He took a moment to wonder.

This year, I resolve:

To take time to wonder, even if all I have is a moment.

To pause, tilt my face up and feel the raindrops on my skin as I walk from the store to my car.

To catch snowflakes on my tongue before I shovel the walk.

To smile and thank the store clerks and wait-staff who serve me.

To slow down and really look at the faces of my children as we talk—the color of their eyes, the texture of their skin.

To see their essence. The wonder-full beings that they are.

Before the moment is gone.

If you find wonder on your doorstep, please let it in. It will light your world too.



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Author: Kendra Hackett

Editor: Travis May

Image: Woodleywonderworks/Flickr

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