Recently, I have been reminded of the importance of wonder. Children are great at this - they marvel at the beauty, awe, and peculiarity that can be seen everywhere in the world. Perhaps we would all do well to recover some of that childlike spirit in our adult lives. Here are a few moments I’ve noticed recently:
I became a frequent flyer at an early age. My family moved from Ohio to North Dakota just before I started first grade, and the next five years were full of back-and-forth trips to visit our relatives during summer and holiday breaks. I can still remember what it felt like the first time I looked out the window as the plane rose through the clouds. It seemed magical, in a way - as if this was something that shouldn’t be possible for human beings.
I don’t fly nearly as often as an adult, but I travel occasionally for work. This summer, I was almost stranded far from home due to a delayed flight. Fortunately, I got rerouted and made it home just a few hours later than planned. Watching city lights reflected on the Great Lakes from my window seat, I felt the same sense of awe that I had all those years ago. How could it be possible that traveling to a different city more than 800 miles away from my original destination was only a minor inconvenience, a slight delay in sleeping in my own bed at the end of the day?
When we arrived in North Dakota, we were surprised to find that all the squirrels were black instead of the brownish-gray we were used to seeing in Ohio. I later learned that they are all the same type of squirrel and that the coloring is only a genetic variation. But as a young child, they felt almost mythical.
Until a couple of years ago, I had never seen a black squirrel in Ohio, but apparently, they are making their way south. After spotting them around town a few times this summer, we now have a permanent resident in the backyard. And I am still so excited to see it every day when I look out the window! It still feels like magic to me that they exist, much less that one could be here in my neighborhood.
Last night, I made tuna casserole for dinner. I routinely make many dishes I ate as a child, but smelling that casserole takes me back to the family dinner table and a sense of warmth and belonging that I may have taken for granted. It’s a sensory experience that is hard to capture in words, and nothing else has caused me to feel it.
Taking a flight, watching backyard wildlife, and making dinner are ordinary, everyday experiences. But these callbacks to my childhood have served as poignant reminders. I’m trying to be on the lookout for more of these little moments of delight and amazement. Where can you find wonder in the everyday?
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