A couple of days ago, I came home from the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop. I’ve been to four OYAN workshops (two summer, two winter), and each one of them has been fascinating, wonderful, eye-opening, and beautiful in their own unique ways. And yet, this past week impacted me on an entirely different level. A more personal, more intricate level. Despite being surrounded by over two-hundred teens and college students, I felt like this week was meant for me.
The theme of the workshop was Wonderology, which is indeed what it sounds like: the study of wonder. What does it mean to wonder?
The word “wonder” is filled with such a majestic simplicity. It literally means:
1. n. A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
2. v. To desire or be curious to know something.
3. v. To feel admiration and amazement, marvel.
This type of awe, amazement, desire…wonder is continually becoming more and more scarce in our daily lives. After all, we’re adults now, and it’s time to start thinking about more serious things, like what job we want, who to get married to, where to live, what to think, what to do, how to act. And amidst all of that, the simplistic act of wondering is too often lost.
So why don’t we wonder anymore? Why does “growing up” mean sacrificing the “what if” questions that make you want to explore the world? I think it’s because we’re afraid. I mean, we’re adults, right? Wondering and all that…it’s for kids. And what if people think I’m stupid for creating an alternate dimension fairy world inside of a BB at a church potluck? As adults, we don’t want to ruin our image by wondering.
To be honest, this is something I never quite understood myself. When people ask weird questions like, “So what if fairies lived in this BB and it’s actually another world?” they automatically become five times more intriguing to me. What about wondering “ruins” our image as an adult? As the pastor at my church pointed out this past Sunday, we are blessed by discoveries and knowledge today because people wondered. Because CS Lewis wondered, we have Narnia. Because Galileo wondered, we have the telescope. If nobody ever wondered, where would we be?
I think that sometimes, adults fear wonder because it is a new frontier; an unknown road; a path into the void. We tend to worry, “Oh no, what if I get ridiculed for this? Nobody’s ever done this before, so what if it doesn’t work? What if nobody likes it? What if nobody likes me?” This is part of what makes wonder so majestic. It’s a risk. It’s calling from that undiscovered realm, “Be brave! Seek…dream…take that step out of your comfort zone.” And sometimes people will think you’re crazy. They’ll laugh. They might mock you. Wonder—and acting upon it is not for cowards.
The thing that most impacted me over the past week was seeing a group of not children, but teenagers and adults come together to wonder. It inspired me and gave me hope that there are still people who have that spark; that desire.
I’ve heard it said, “Oh, well, it’s nice to wonder and all, but that’s for artists.” Naturally, those quirky people who are “different” than everybody else. Well, let me tell you a secret….YOU are a quirky person. Even if you’re not an artist, or someone you consider “creative”, you’re human. And humans wonder. It’s in our very nature to ask “what if?” And for those of you who are Christians, as children of God, we are called to wonder. To be in awe of Him and the things He has made. God desires for us to wonder, and He made us with that desire as well, if we don’t suppress it because, “Hey, we’re adults now!” Maybe so, but God wants us to come to Him “as little children.” With wonder.
Yesterday, I spoke to my church about wonderology and worship, and how I believe those two things go hand in hand. As a writer, one would think I’d be all about songs with words during worship, right? But I’m not. I know it might be a bit of a shocker to people who are used to traditional worship, but when I really desire to seek after and find God, I turn on soundtracks. Ahem. Yes, soundtracks. Before you laugh or think, “Man, she’s weird” (though you may have already done that), I’ve discovered that the nature of soundtracks invoke a sense of wonder in me. The great, thematic stuff, but especially the delicate, gentle, swirling pieces. (This is where I make my plug for the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack.) They create the perfect setting to ponder; to not narrow the focus of your mind, but to let it wander. They communicate something that is deeper than mere words, and that is the essence of wonder.
So today, I want to challenge everyone who reads this post to think about one thing that you wonder about. Don’t just invent something, but really actually think about it. Ponder for a few minutes. (Maybe listen to soundtracks.) When life happens, it’s easy to forget to wonder. We push it aside for more urgent matters, like the house, the job, the car, what to feed the kids for dinner. It’s easy to wonder when the spark is fresh, but it’s important to keep it alive. So I’m asking you right now…
What do you wonder?