Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Days of Wonder: Influences


As I said yesterday, I've just been noticing the beauty and wonder in ordinary things lately, but there are a couple of specific quotes that really influenced me in choosing this topic. Both are ones that I come back to frequently in my mind. 

"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder". 

This comes from the truly great writer, E.B. White. You can tell from the way White wrote children's books (Charlotte's Web is one of my all time favorite books ever) that he was ON THE LOOKOUT. Sometimes, I think we spend time on the lookout for terrible things, at least that's what happens in my life when anxiety and exhaustion and insecurity are given reign. And sometimes, I think we're on the lookout for things that are just mediocre. This can be confusing because what's mediocre to one person could be full of wonder to another and there's NOTHING wrong with the mundane (in fact, that's what this is all about). But I think it's important to sort of try to figure out what kind of things awaken us. 

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

This quote by William Martin has been important to me for quite some time. I don't know if my children will ever go to Disney World. I don't know if they'll ever travel to another country (or if I will!). I do know that they will live a very, very different life from their peers whose parents are in our socio-economic class because of the purposeful choices Peyton and I have made. They may not experience many things that the world calls grand.

They also may not lead lives that the world calls grand. Annie's favorite thing to say is that she wants to be either a veterinarian or an MTA worker when she grows up. Obviously, being a veterinarian requires extensive post-graduate education. Being an MTA worker, does I'm assuming require a bit of training, but certainly not a college degree. 

Do I care? In a word, no. I will be equally proud of her EXTRAORDINARY life weather she works in train tunnels or gets an advanced degree or cleans other peoples houses or wins the Nobel Prize. 

Showing her that begins now- in showing her that we value the small and ordinary things of life. In showing her the joy of a tomato sandwich on a Summer afternoon. In showing her that her tears over small and big things matter. In showing her that the human touch is a powerful, powerful thing. In showing her simple, ordinary things. Because so often, they are things of great wonder! 

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