Wondering about the world through the eyes of a child
I was so happy to see Allison O’Connor’s story about creating fairy gardens (p20). She includes a lot of how-to information in addition to describing the allure of conjuring such a place. She ends the story like this: “Create your family’s magical place, where dreams flourish and tiny flying creatures dance and celebrate the goodness of gardens.”
Now we don’t really believe in magic, right? Well maybe not the pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat kind, anyway. But one definition of magic is: mysteriously enchanting. In that sense, the world is a magical place, a place where we can wonder, a wonderland, I guess. Spring is a great time to be enchanted by the mystery.
Every year I’m dazed and amazed when the crocuses poke up through the snow (well dry dirt this year) and unfold bright yellow and purple petals. It’s not that I’m surprised that they survived winter and are back again. It’s just that it seems so crazy how life persists like that.
I was riding my bike and saw a bright yellow bush all budded out. I love that. Now, I’m not a botanist (although I play one on the internet), but I’m pretty sure that any basic biology course outlines how plants sprout, grow, reproduce and die, down to the tiniest organic-chemical detail. Science is a great way to understand the world, and I think, I hope anyway, that it begins with wonder. First something captures the eye, or one of our other senses, and we’re drawn toward it. At first we just enjoy it.
Let’s say it’s a duck at a lake and we’re walking by and it starts stammering away and waddling toward us. If we’re 3 years old we might squat down, in that way only 3-year-old knees will allow, and get face-to-face with the noisy aggressor, or we might hide behind some bigger legs. In any case, we’re fully engaged. We wonder what might happen next. We see how green the eyes are and the funny little spot on the beak. We haven’t seen so many ducks that we just label it a duck and carry on. We notice the scratchy sound it’s making. We notice other details and maybe we laugh at something silly because it looks so funny the way that duck is walking, rocking from one foot to the other. Then, all of a sudden, it’s too close so we throw the bread on the ground and run back a few steps.
Anything seems possible. For some kids it might inspire them to learn about the science of things, for others it might move them toward poetry or prose, still others might just find peace lying in the grass musing about what the dragons or turtles floating through the sky are thinking about.
Magic isn’t about crazy things happening that we can’t explain (think government). Nor is it about advanced technologies that we can’t explain (think iPads). Magic is about allowing yourself to see the world through fresh eyes every day, appreciating how crazy wonderful it is, and enjoying the mysterious enchantment of it all.