They might not be a commentary on deep, universal truths, but then again, whoever said they had to?

They might not be a commentary on deep, universal truths, but then again, whoever said they had to?

At the end of the 19th century, what you're doing right now would have been be tantamount to magic. Absolute fantasy. You're sitting in front of some sort of glowing screen, nothing behind the glass, reading something I wrote on a similar device days in the past. Images and words in bright, vibrant color link you to virtual places, untethered to any physical thing... et voila: ideas move from here to there.

Today, of course, I'm simply pleased that you've taken five minutes to read these few words. The point is, what used to be magical is now ordinary. But in these post-magical times, I find that the most magical moments are the ones we simply allow ourselves to feel.

The other day I was in the gym chatting with one of my fellow early-rising cohort. He mentioned to me how his 98-year-old father had never lost his sense of wonder. His father allegedly said, "Remember that light snow the other day? Sitting quietly there in the backyard were two rabbits, right next to each other in the snow. I never see rabbits like that in winter!"

My immediate thought was, "I wonder if I would have noticed". But this much I do know upon reflection: I haven't been able to get the image out of my head all day.

I find that retaining a sense of wonder in ordinary as well as extraordinary things often matters most for doing something that's worthwhile. A sense of wonder can be one of the great wellsprings for art, the soul of invention, and the engine of love.

Wonder, and it's sibling sentiment surprise, enables us to be fascinated. It enables us to make observations, to draw connections, to make something out of nothing. Those people I know who show almost no sense of wonder are often the saddest. To be clear, it's not just that they're boring; they're often sad.

Of course, you can't simply bolt on a sense of wonderment and have it be an authentic feeling. The ability to be compelled by interesting connections is something you have to learn over time. It's from within; it doesn't fit if it's applied from without. The ability to wonder is the ability to be surprised without being overwhelmed. It's a sense of joy in your own abilities and it's joy in noticing things in the world. Wonder is the feeling of creation when a poem that didn't exist an hour ago looks back at your from the notebook in your lap. It's the thrill of actually touching another person physically, or emotionally, or intellectually. It's the thrill of being genuinely touched by another person, too.

No doubt there are other sources of artistic inspiration in the world. But today I'm thinking about an old man looking out his window, marveling at two rabbits sitting still in a snowy yard. It's a quiet image, perhaps meaningless to most. But even without knowing anything else about the man who made the observation, there's at least one tiny part of him that I care about already.






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