Won•der (noun): a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable
Life is the soul's all-too-brief vacation from the eternity from which we emerged and to which we return. Wonder is our reaction to the awareness of that fact.
The capacity for wonder is part of the human condition, though it too often becomes buried beneath heavy layers of details of realities and requirements of daily life. While no one could spend every moment aware of the wonder of life—we could never accomplish anything substantive if we did—it can be as close to the surface of our consciousness as we allow it to be.
I can and do find wonder in almost anything I look at or think of—all I have to do is to open my mind to it. The key to the door to wonder is the simple question “why?” Why are things the way they are rather than some other way? What would it be like if those things were different from what they are? What would the world be like? What would you be like? What would I be like?
How can one walk on a beach and not wonder which are more numerous: the grains of sand on the beach or the stars in the sky? To wonder is to knock over the first domino in an endless chain of on-end dominos. How many of those stars have planets with life? How many have civilizations like our own? How many astonishingly wonderful things are out there of which we are totally unaware? How can anyone possibly ever be bored when there are are an infinite number of things to wonder about?
And so it goes, one thing leading to another until we, with conscious effort, pull ourselves back to daily existence. So, for however enthralling wondering is, for some people—me, for one—wonder is like an eager puppy on a leash running in circles around our feet while we're trying to walk, distracting us from the demands of daily reality. This has been the case with me for most of my life. It is undoubtedly why I became a writer...the search for answers and alternatives to “why.”
But for all the beauty to be found in wonder, there is a darker side to it, taking the form of sometimes an almost debilitating incomprehension, which also distracts me from just living my life. There is so very much I sincerely do not and cannot, no matter how hard I try, comprehend. How can so many people be so intolerant and hateful of others? What do they use for logic? Why, if given the choice between positive and negative, do they always choose the negative? Why, when given the choice of building up or tearing down, do they choose tearing down? Why do they seem utterly devoid of compassion, of a true awareness of the needs of others; especially those less fortunate than themselves? I may (and do) strongly think that my beliefs and opinions are those by which, if everyone else lived, the world would become a better place. But I would never, ever, insist that you think and believe the same. So by what right do others insist that I conform to their thoughts and beliefs?
Whether you believe in God or in an afterlife or the existence of the soul, the gift of wonder, like the gift of life itself, is, well, infinitely priceless. To ignore or be unaware of either one is the ultimate form of ingratitude.