Posted by: pendrops | January 9, 2007

something like wonder


I’ve been going through old pictures lately, piecing together a collage of Jason’s family, as well as my own. As I have scanned hundreds of pictures, looking for just the right ones (like Polaroid puzzle pieces), I’ve run across several of me as a four, five, six-year-old child.

In my urgency to get this four-month project completed, I have mostly tossed aside these unusable pictures of me (cute as they may be). But after a while, I started to notice a common current coursing through them. It took me a while to define it, to determine what seemed so different about me as girl in ponytails and purple shorts. But as I lingered, I saw it. Wonder.

And then I saw something else: I’ve lost wonder.

One particular picture captured it better than any other. The one of me leaning in front of my cousins and my grandpa to let the glow of a dozen or so birthday candles shine on me. In that moment, nothing held my attention like those bobbing flames, that candy-colored wax.

Wow! The candles! The cake! Yum. Happy Birthday dear grandpa, Happy…

Wonder stops us, demands our attention, requires that we yield to something big, something we can’t explain. Wonder takes our breath and holds it in our throat, on the threshold of a sigh and a gasp. I can’t remember the last time I experienced that. The last time I halted this train, my never-ending to-dos. The last time I turned off the accusing voice saying, “You should be…” to listen to another. And to wonder at it.

Instead, I move through my day, leaving no room for fascination or for the little things that say so much about the bigger things. But at least, that way, I don’t miss it so much. I don’t feel the loss. I forget those kinds of things, wonder-full things, exists.

Until I run across a picture. And look into a child’s eyes. My eyes.

I’ve seen a lot in the fast-moving, unforgiving, adult world. I know the demands. And I’ve got it down, this whole “real world” thing. T.S. Eliot’s meticulous, disciplined, wonder-less character, J. Alfred Prufrock, puts it this way: “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…” I don’t want to live like that. I want to be stopped, interuppted, dislocated. By a passing train, a rain puddle, a cake full of candles.

Maybe just stopping to graft this washed-out snapshot on to my mind, my heart, is something like a start.



  1. You’re giving me goosebumps.

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