Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. While I have been compensated, all thoughts and opinions are expressly mine.
I spend more time than I care to admit grumbling about the state of my children’s brains. “They’re doomed,” I think to myself. You see, their first love is not nature, or art, or the printed word. It is the little i-device, which they hold as if it were precious gem.
Like an old lady who sits on her porch, waving her cane in anger and assuming that the children are always up to no good, I err on the side of shout-y. “Sweet Jesus on a bicycle! Put that screen down and do something else!”
Let me tell you, my children always respond to shout-y with humbled hearts and enthusiasm for other activities. Yes, indeed.
Instead, I was the one with the humbled heart recently. Elena showed me exactly what had caught her interest on her iPod for what seemed like seventy-hundred hours on a Sunday afternoon. She was going through photos posted to Twitter by an account called Microscope Pics, which collects and reposts images taken by electron microscopes.
“Do you know what the grooves on a vinyl record actually look like?”
“Did you know our dust was so beautiful?”
“Did you know how adorable zebrafish larvae are?!”
I don’t, I did not, and OMG let’s adopt some zebrafish!
Photo credit: Jurgen Berger and Mahendra Sonawane
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
And so it is true what Socrates says:
Wisdom begins in wonder.
By closing our minds to where inspiration and wonder can be found, we shut out entire worlds of fantastic things. We exclude photos we’ll never see, places we’ll never know to visit, music that will never move us to tears or dancing, food we never imagined we might taste, people we might never have the pleasure of knowing, books we’d never have the joy of escaping into.
I find wonder in the books, in museums, through my kids’ eyes, in the people I meet, through walks in the forest. Those are terrific places to wander, wonder, and be amazed. But in my narrow-minded view of what constitutes a good way to spend one’s time, I can very easily block out other perfectly acceptable sources of wonder. I can forget the sage advice from the fantastically creative mind that gave us the loveliest spider that ever existed, E.B. White:
Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.
The enemy of seeking out wonder, however, is busyness. When we’re too rushed and hyper-focused on the task at hand, we might as well be walking around with blinders on. There were times I wished I could purchase a pair specifically made for small children. (Although if you told me they were available in the One Step Ahead catalog I would not be the least bit shocked.) A simple walk or an errand could easily turn into to an hours-long affair. I just wanted to return a book to the library, not marvel at every blade of grass and bestow a name on each ant that crossed our path. But that ability to stop, look, and ponder gives way to curiosity, which leads to knowledge. Given the chance to pursue those things which rouse a child’s wonder, that child eventually grows up into an adult that can find joy in the world around them. Bonus: they also grow up into adults that you actually enjoy making conversation with at a cocktail party.
Whether it’s your toddler on a walk, your 3rd grader and his Pokemon cards, your teen and their iPod, or your spouse and their favorite podcast, open your eyes to the infinite sources of wonder all around you. You never know what you might discover.
This post was sponsored by author T. A. Barron and was inspired by his upcoming gift book “The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life.” This book is the wizard Merlin’s answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?” Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words — including wonder. But they are the most powerful words of all. The Wisdom of Merlin is available for pre-order now, and will be available wherever books are sold on March 23, 2015.