When did we stop wondering? Wondering… what is that, how does that work, who was that, when did that happen, where did I put that, why should I do that. When did we stop wondering what, how, who, when, where, and why? This simple wondering about stuff is at the heart of what we call “the sense of wonder,” a feeling that the world is full of mysteries to be discovered, of a magical or mystical source flowing through and within our material world.

Somewhere between youngster, kid, adolescent, teen, young adult, and grownup, most of us lost that sense of wonder. We stopped wondering about things and just started taking it all for granted. Seeing it all on “face value,” as surface with no depth. Perhaps some incident caused us pain or embarrassment, or we got pissed off at some bad luck, or we were sorely disappointed. It doesn’t take much. In the movie “Breaking Away,” young bicycle racer Dave Stoller says “Everybody cheats.” The world changes, we learn some lesson, we vow never to be taken in again.

We have lost the sense of wonder. Some will say that’s just part of growing up. Fitting in. Getting along. Making do. Paying your dues. We have so many ways of rationalizing our way out of wonder. From then on life becomes dull, routine, predictable, painful, hard, angry, dark, scary, and defeating. Wow doesn’t that sound like fun. And after a so-called “disillusionment” we resign ourselves to the “fact” that life in this world is simply not wonderful… End of story. No more hopeful wondering. No more sense of wonder.

Truth is though, we can return to the sense of wonder in a moment, whenever we want. Doing so is actually easy but we may feel too hopeless to know it.

Here are some ways to re-cultivate that sense of wonder — again…

  • When someone uses a word that you don’t know, ask what it means. (Or look it up yourself.) When someone describes some thing or some process or some event that you’ve never heard of, make a mental note to learn more about it.
  • Take time to figure out how something works. Read up on it. Take it apart. Consult an expert. Build one yourself. Roll up your sleeves, dig in, and learn something new. Nothing expands your sense of wonder at the boggling complexity of the world than learning.
  • If someone drops a name you don’t know, find out who that is, and what they did to become worthy of name-dropping.
  • If it ever arises that you don’t know or can’t remember when something took place, track it back and find out.
  • If you can’t place a location — where you left something, or where something happened — track it back. Find the closest or last known place and trace back from there.
  • When someone reacts in a way you did not expect, reflect on your interaction to understand why. When someone expects you to behave in a certain way, or do something in particular, and you don’t know why, ask why. And if you don’t understand the answer, ask why again. And keep asking why until reason or exasperation prevails.

The child-like ability to repeatedly ask what, how, who, when, where, and why is at the core of wonder. It is enchanting to those who share your wonder, and swiftly annoying to those who don’t.

Wonder. Child-like wonder at the sheer magnificence of the richness and depth of the world at large is a blessing shrouded in disguise.

It looks like the eternally pestering nitwit, postures as a dim-witted clown, but in the end is an age-wrinkled guru revealing wisdom for all to share.

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