When we’re kids, everything is fascinating and awe-inspiring. A simple flashcard with a bright, beautiful picture and it’s name printed beneath it catches our eye and we want to see more. Glitter, markers, crayons and colored pencils are all wonderful things when you’re in elementary school. And remember what happened when Elmer’s glue dried up on your hands and you had to peel it off? It was a riot. Babies are captivated when they realize they have control over their bodies and can begin to explore the strange things around them independently. Children can spend hours on a swing or a slide or the monkey bars.
When we’re older, we still find things fascinating, but different things. Whether it’s a work of art, a monument, or a beautiful garden. However, I can’t help but feel that our sense of wonder is gradually waning more and more as society advances.
In science class, we’ve been studying how things are made. And of course, as a 3rd grader who is obsessed with crayons and colored pencils, that’s the first thing you want to learn about. With the intent of instilling a sense of curiosity and appreciation for how things are made, as we watched videos on how colored pencils and crayons are made, I was the one who ended up learning a lesson.
Understanding that I have the greatest fortune to be in comfortable circumstances in which I can purchase what I need, and sometimes what I want, and also with the freedom to travel, I realize that there is so much I take for granted. We all do it. It happens on a daily basis. But when we take things for granted, it also means that the sense of wonder that makes life so fascinating, is missing.
For example, I once went to a comedy show where the comedian made a joke about people talking about the “miracle of life” whenever someone is pregnant or has a child, when really it’s old news because people are having babies every single day, animals do it all the time and it’s not that big of a deal. But just because it’s a commonplace event and in this day and age in the Western world it’s much safer than it once was, does that detract from the wonder that is giving birth and being a parent?
I find myself losing my sense of wonder as well. On doing a 26 kilometer hike through the mountains of Cazorla, though I was generally amazed at the splendor of the raw, natural beauty around me, I ended up getting lost in thought and zoning out for a portion of the hike. And as traveling to different places has become more frequent, everything starts to look the same. When I see a giant church that was constructed hundreds of years ago before the machines needed were invented and before everything was fabricated and looked exactly the same, I am no longer inspired and awed. I feel like I’ve seen it all before and I’m ready to move on to the next thing.
Due to the advancement of society and general production, we’re able to get things that we want and need easily without a thought as to how it comes to us. When we need milk, it’s in the supermarket, when we need pencils, they’re in the office supply store, when we need furniture, they have hundred of replications of the same couches and chairs in storage at the furniture warehouse. Photographs have also become something to take for granted. What was once a work of art has now become an everyday thing with people posting “artsy” photographs on Facebook and Instagram. That’s not to say that photography is no longer a work of art, nor to deny that those photos on social media are beautiful. But I can’t help but feel that because we are now looking at different photos everyday, when we do come across amazing photographs, do we recognize them for what they are? In other words, when we’re overloaded with a multitude of a certain item, does it soon come to lose the ability to inspire us as it should?
Tied into this question is another that continues to plague me: does technology distract us too much from truly enjoying our lives and living in the moment and feeling inspired by what is around us?
Just a few examples:
1. On seeing Michaelangelo’s David, taking selfies and moving on to the next thing.
2. When having dinner with a friend and checking your phone as soon as you get a text (that you know is not an emergency).
3. Selfies. Period. (Note: I take selfies all the time too, but I’ve decided to stop posting them on Facebook. I do not need to put them on there to feel validated, or to prove anything to anyone. Everyone has different reasons for posting selfies, and they’re not always necessarily egotistical, but if I am being completely honest with myself, it was for egotistical purposes, and I do not think it is necessary for me to post those types of photos anymore).
Maybe I’m just venting, or feeling guilty for my general lack of wonder lately, but I do really feel that as our society continues to advance and as technology has now become a permanent part of who we are as human beings (because yes, it does influence who we are as individuals at this point in time), our general appreciation for the basic things in life has declined greatly. Nature, monuments, art, life to life conversations, all of these basic and yet invaluable occurrences have gone from special things to mundane things as we get swept up in a world of consumerism and technology.
So now what? Not sure. I hope to make more of an effort in my life to get out of my head and off of my screens to remember what life was like before we had so many things to distract us, when being on the swings was the greatest thing in the world, when opening a fresh box of crayons meant opening a world of new possibilities, when playing in the sun was the most liberating feeling in the world.