The Deth of Wunder

Aug 27, 2014 | Random

Author’s note: One of the most amusing parts of my life now is the struggles my children have with mastering the illogical nuances of the English language. Reading the notes they write Christy, me, and their classmates is an enjoyable escape because of the hordes of misspellings…and yet they are completely phonetically logical. In the interest of wonder, and as a grammatical photograph of their linguistic development, I title this writing as they would have. Ah, the beauty of childhood.

During the pursuit of my undergraduate education, I took a course in geology for the sole purpose of completing an unavoidable component of my bachelor’s degree. I needed three credit hours, and this elective, while painfully boring, was available at a local community college. As a full-time employee of the university, the timeframe of its offering (albeit with an unofficial competitor to my employer) fit within my tight schedule. I went for it.

As I registered for the course, I was cognizant of the fact that I had always, since kindergarten at least, been categorized as a member of the “geeks” group.

Okay. That’s not entirely true.

When I was in elementary school, the term “geek” didn’t actually exist (at least not in our nomenclature). Geeks in those days were sort of like pre-Protestant Christians in 1516, just before Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg: We were there, we were different, but we didn’t have our own name yet. We didn’t fit in with the “nerds” exactly (which was the term that was used, along with “dweebs”, for the non-cool or non-normal kids) , but we were more like them than we were the popular kids. I don’t know if it was Steve Jobs or Bill Gates that caused the term “geek” to come to light; it was probably the Star Wars saga, somewhere between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi where we came into prominence. Geeks were cooler than nerds. Just ask us, we’ll tell you.

Painful history aside, during Introduction to Geology, I was bored out of my mind for most of it…okay… for all of it.

The field trip to the Caprock near San Jon, where we gathered fossils, made the course bearable. That and fact that the class had several attractive coeds, also bored out of their minds, who actually talked to me…on purpose, which I thought was awesome! (I was a young man, very naive, very lost-in-the-woods.) Besides what I’ve just mentioned, I remember almost nothing about it…but that course is the inspiration for this writing.

I remember Introduction to Geology: The Most Boring of Courses, more than many of the others for one reason only: the Instructor’s passion for the subject. I do not remember his name, and I remember almost nothing I learned (I got an “A” by the way, further validating my status as a geek) except bad jokes that unwittingly entered my head when he talked of geological oddities.

But folks, I’m telling you that this guy got excited about rocks. Dull…boring…rocks. And that genuine, heart-felt excitement…well, I never forgot it.

He scarred me. Seriously.

He got to me so deeply and so thoroughly that I cannot see a rock, much less pick one up (with a young son, that’s a regular occurrence) without thinking about how engrossed he was within the most mundane of objects.

And every time he got excited, and for many of the years since, I asked myself “Why?”

Again, I cannot even remember the man’s name or how he looked, but I cannot forget his passion, and now, after many years of uncertainly, I think I know why: Among all the wonders of our planet, and ultimately our very existence, rocks know the story better than all.

I mean to offend no one: I am unashamedly an evangelical Christian, and despite popular misconceptions, most of us know that the earth is billions of years old. The rocks that we pick out of the soles of our shoes, the ones in the pavement upon which we drive, the ones we climb upon and over for recreation, the ones in our rings, these and all others existed when the Grand Canyon was an inch deep, when dinosaurs lived, when the Earth was a ball of ice, when the Clovis man roamed the high plains, when our planet was underwater, when Rome fell. The inconsequential, the seemingly incidental, the common, the irrelevant pebble was here at the birth of time and will be here long after life, as we know it, is past.

As I begin to come into my own, it is upon things such as these that I dwell…and wonder.

One of the great blessings of parenthood is the opportunity to see the world anew upon the visage of our children. Through the eyes of my daughter and my son, I see glimpses of the child I was, and I witness again the wonder of the world. The simple things of life have immeasurable beauty, made all-the-more beautiful by the contentment that is found in the ignorant bliss of wanting and lacking nothing.

Through the eyes of a child, absolutes and purity exist—and thrive. The world is new. Every day is an adventure. Everything is possible. Life is a journey from awe to awe.

And yet, as we grow from child to adult, something sinister happens. And it is within that metamorphosis that we lose our sense of wonder at the world. As we age, however menially, we grow numb to the elegant and simple beauty of life. For most of the human race, wonder dies long before the mind, the soul, and the body.

I nearly lost my life two years ago, suddenly and without warning. (The details of the event are not relevant here, although I will chronicle them in a later writing.) As a result of what happened, and the fact that I survived it, I no longer take anything for granted.

Since the events of that day (and the three that followed), I now view the world anew, in a way I had not perceived it in years, even decades. Everything experienced, whether good or bad, has meaning and has value. My mission now is to preserve the wonder I see daily in the eyes of my children. It is still lives there, in their hearts and souls. Wonder still thrives upon and within their visage, and I do all I can to preserve and perpetuate its presence in their lives. Together, with the unwavering efforts of my wife, I believe we will succeed.

How will we permanently instill a sense of wonder in our children, you may ask? I’ll tell you: by being blatantly, consistently, and perpetually honest. We tell them daily that Truth exists, that Purity exists, that the UNKNOWN and the UNDISCOVERED (waiting to be discovered) exists, and that NO day is the same as the one that precedes it. I have no illusions that I can completely impart what I have learned my children. They are agents of free will, as are we all, and they will ultimately decide their course in life. But, I believe in the laws of God…and the laws of physics…and laws of nature…and in the existence of Truth.

I believe in The Infallible: Perception is often misconceived as reality, but by definition, Truth is always Truth.

The commonly accepted fallacy that the mundane, that the ordinary, that the average is the equivalent (even the embodiment) of the irrelevant, begets the vehicle through which the death of wonder destroys the promise of a life well-lived, full of richness, fulfillment, and joy.

I’ll say it in a different way: When you take everything around you for granted (your health, family, friends, job…your car, your dwelling…the air you breathe, the sun, the wind, the rain…anything… and everything), when you ignore the importance of things that make your life possible because they appear common, you will never live life to even a fraction of its fullness.

The death of wonder sows the seeds of apathy and malcontent. I won’t waste virtual parchment describing what that causes. Look around you; the fruit of its wares is everywhere.

The death of wonder breeds the death of drive which breeds the death of vision which breeds the death of hope. And without hope, the reason for effort ceases to be relevant.

Simply put, when you no longer have a reason to dream, you won’t. And life loses its meaning, and despair and despondency reign supreme.

Dear reader, this need not be.

Take hope! The resurrection of wonder is not a difficult task; wonder is inherent in humanity. If this were not so, do you think the movie industry would be such a force in our society? Movies embody wonder! The success of the Star Wars saga transcends generations specifically because it both inspires and feeds on wonder. Even those who are alive but have stopped living find comfort in the thought of a distant past in a far off place.

So I issue a simple challenge all who read this, a challenge to rekindle wonder in your life by doing a simple thing, to some, even a stupid thing:

Find a rock that has a single unique quality that appeals to you. Spend five minutes holding it, peering into it, and think of the things that have transpired since its creation. Think of the things that may yet transpire while that rock exists, the things it will witness, long after your life on earth has ended.

Think of the past.

Think of the future.

And wonder.

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