I did a search via Google for the definition of the word wonder, and here is what I found.
Wonder-a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
“he had stood in front of it, observing the intricacy of the ironwork with the wonder of a child”
synonyms: awe, admiration, wonderment, fascination;
There were other definitions, all related for sure but this is more than enough to for the purpose of our conversation. How often do you use the word? How often do you stop to actually “wonder”? When we are younger, we begin sentences with “ I wonder if” or “wouldn’t it be great if” or “imagine if”. Where does that go as we get older? At what point does that change? What might our world look like if our school system’s primary objective was to “preserve wonder”? What if we stopped to think about just one thing that the people closest to us may not know about us and share it with them? Share something that might allow them to gain empathy or insight. Then have them do the same with us.
When Did We Lose Our Sense Of Wonder?
My wife is Mexican-American, I am African-American. When we first started dating years ago, one of my first encounters with her sister’s children went like this. The youngest of the boys who must have been around 5 years old at the time, put his hand on my head and said: “ Shawn, your hair feels like paper”.
He was in awe. Had it been an adult that asked, it would be considered rude by most people. In this case, it was evident that my nephew had little or no experience being around black people and the innocence of that moment has always stayed with me. I laughed and thought it was so pure.
Just as we should open ourselves up to wondering about each other, we need to be open to receiving it as well, provided that it is sincere. Without it, we could falsely label a person as racist, because of an ignorant but sincere question (for instance, if a white person asked me in all sincerity if I sunburn, should I not embrace their honest wonder?).
The lack of wonder in our world today is a large part of the reason why we have failed in the area of race relations, why there is inequality between the sexes, and it limits the quality of our lives when we stop wondering about the world around us in general. When that happens, we stop learning. When we stop learning we stop growing, if we are not growing we are dying.. sometimes literally. We may be alive but we most certainly are not living.
Having a natural and sincere curiosity about the world around us is something that I am convinced, keeps us young. I can FEEL the difference in my body as I wonder about almost anything, as I discuss these things with my kids, and they ask about the things that they wonder about.
But it’s especially obvious when I wonder out loud. When I actually share my wonder with or, more accurately, to the universe. That may sound odd to some but I dare you to try. As a matter of fact, do just that. Try it for a given period, then respond to me here in the comments and tell me about your experience. Don’t just try it for a day, Give a week or more. It may take more time for some than it will for others to actually stop and get curious.
For others, it will take less effort. But I think you’ll be pretty surprised at the results and the effect it can have. I believe there is little merit in asking or inviting others to do that which you won’t do so I will do the same, document my experience, then check back on here to share it and read yours. I hope you’ll join me.