A New Kind of Wonder

September 7, 2008

In the simple days of ideal youth, we find cause for exultation in objects. We raise up our hands in joy on seeing an owl at the zoo. We shout with glee at Sesame Street. The very face of our mother brings us a smile.

Age and experience weather and wither our naive innocence, and likewise our ability to be thunderstruck by simple items, trinkets, and vistas. Have we then lost something? Have we, by striding through our upbringing and education, swallowed the apple and been cast out of the garden of childlike wonder? Are we doomed forever to remain unable to recoup that wide-eyed wonder at an owl or a face or the simple taste of a cupcake?

No. In fact, we've become able to be struck with wonder at a far deeper level. In youth, we find joy in objects, in instances. As we grow older, we become able to perceive the beauty not only in the instance but also in the form or idea. We now can see the Owl, but can moreover appreciate the delicate structure of bone and feather which enables her to create lift and thereby fly. We can ponder the excruciating detail implemented in her circulatory system, and the process where the entire complex package fits into a living, breathing creature. We can now understand better the work, time, effort, and dedication that is poured into our favorite television program, and feel a gratitude unavailable to a child. And we can appreciate our mother's face far better now than when we were a smiling toddler.

We get through the instances and into the forms, and learn a new kind of wonder.