It’s a Wonder-filled World

My third-born son and his daughter are off on an adventure this week. They are in New  York City to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. He decided a couple of years ago, when his oldest turned thirteen, that he would take each child (there are four of them) on an “adventure of choice” for that special birthday–just Dad and Kid. His son chose a rafting trip in Georgia and a Braves game. Pretty easy. Doable. A Guy Thing.

NYC

It’s a Wonderful Town!

When he asked his daughter back in the spring where she wanted to go for her birthday, she said, in her lovely, a-bit-melodramatic way, “Oh, Dad! I want to go to New York!” He was more than a little taken aback, I expect, but he’s worked hard to pull this trip together–a special time with a special girl who’s growing up fast. They do that, you know, these children and grandchildren. They seem to go from floor-walking  nights to terrible twos to first grade to “Where are the car keys?” overnight.

My son sent me a text message right after they landed in NYC. “She’s freaking out!” he wrote, which about says it when you’re in that city for the first time. They’ll see a play or two, take in the Metropolitan Museum, MOMA, and Central Park, Strand Books, and do some of the usual sightseeing.

Mostly, she’ll see a world that’s very, very different from hers, even though she’s spent most of her young life in Atlanta and Memphis–cities, but not cities in the sense of New York. Not colossal. Not stupendous. Not larger than life. I expect, knowing her sweet, caring nature, that she’ll be disturbed by the street people. That’s a hard dose of reality, but I hope, I pray it won’t overwhelm her wonder. Maybe it will become part of her vision of what her life can and will be, of how she can make a difference.

What a birthday! What a gift is wonder, tenuous and rare and without price.

But wonder is something we grownups often lose along the way. Disappointments, failures, loss, illness, betrayals–the big doses of reality keep our eyes to the ground, not like we’re looking up at the Manhattan skyline in amazement. I remember that feeling. I wasn’t thirteen the first time I saw the big city. I was in my twenties, but my “freaking out” was much like this child’s. Somewhere along the way, though, I forgot to keep looking up.

Re-discover Wonder!

Granddaughter Lucy at three

So here’s a tip for you, if you’re mired in child-rearing and work and housework and tending to elderly parents, if you’ve got your nose to the grindstone and don’t think you have time to look up. This applies especially to my writer friends who, regardless of age and stage, struggle to fit the writing into a “life happens” schedule.

It’s possible to re-discover wonder. You find it in the smallest things: hummingbirds hover at the feeder; something you’ve planted takes off and grows, blooms, yields fruit; music gives you goosebumps; the waves just keep on pounding the shore, timeless and immeasurable. You find it in your children (or your grandchildren), when you see reflections of yourself and their parents and your own parents, generations come together to make these remarkable individuals. You imagine their lives years from now, who and what they may become. It’s wondrous. Miraculous, really. And that’s just the real-life side of wonder.

Wonder on the Page

There’s wonder, too, when the voices come in your head and you put words on the page. When you re-create your own life experiences. When you make characters, lives, places, worlds. When you make the stuff of poetry. When you read your words aloud, new words that didn’t exist before you put them together just that way, and really hear them. Wondrous. Yes.

This child, my granddaughter, has the writer genes, for sure. She reads voraciously. She acts, she sings, she writes poetry. I encouraged her to take a journal with her on this trip. I’m hoping she’ll share some of her observations–her words–with me.

So happy birthday, Granddaughter. Life is wondrous indeed. It’s nice to be here.

Today, look up. Discover something wondrous in your world. Write about it. Read it aloud and hear your own voice. Tell me about it here.

25 thoughts on “It’s a Wonder-filled World

  1. What a lovely idea to plan a special adventure for a child’s thirteenth birthday.

    And what beautiful thoughts you surround that with. I’ll find something to experience that sense of wonder today. Thanks!

    Hopping over from TALU!

    1. I know how hard it is to think ahead! It doesn’t have to be a destination as expensive as New York. It can be any place, maybe even a place close to home. It’s the “doing it together” aspect that’s so important.

  2. What a lovely tradition your son has started with his children! One which his children will never forget. I was 12 the first time I saw NYC, on a school trip from my one-stop-light North Carolina town. It was eye opening! I recall just the massiveness of it all, the steam pouring up out of the grates in the sidewalks, the homelessness, the lights. It was truly an amazing experience! Thanks for visiting my blog today! I sure appreciate your comment and I look forward to reading more of your lovely writing! #TALU

  3. I was 19 when I saw Manhattan. My Uncle lived in an apartment where we seriously “looked down” to the city. I couldn’t believe a building could be so high and yet looking across and would see even taller ones. It would be out of my comfort zone to go again but I should, and I will with my son. He is growing up in a place even less “city” than where I grew up. He was amazed seeing Richmond from I-95. I loved this post Gerry.

    1. My son did that trip on a shoestring, and they still had a wonderful time. Special memories for both dad and daughter, I believe. I hope you will take your son. I never did that kind of thing with my boys. I wish I had.

  4. “When you make the stuff of poetry. When you read your words aloud, new words that didn’t exist before you put them together just that way, and really hear them. Wondrous. Yes.” Gerry, you must have felt the wonder and the music when you wrote this post, and especially these words. Lovely.

    1. Thanks, Leigh. I can honestly say these words were “heartfelt.” I really didn’t know last night what I’d write about today, and I felt a little panicky. That’s part of the wonder of it, though, isn’t it? Thanks so much for reading and for the good thoughts!

  5. I like your reminder to re-discover wonder. Maybe you’ll tell us what your granddaughter chose to share about her exciting birthday present…what she discovered in NY.

  6. Made me want to book a trip to Manhattan! It’s been over 13 years since I’ve been there, although less than that if we count the vicarious trips through my daughter.

  7. I loved this, Gerry. What a great experience for your granddaughter (and son – what a great tradition he started!). You let us all share vicariously in that moment of wonder. You’re right — I was just thinking last night how quickly the time goes and how important it is to slow down and enjoy it!

    1. Sometimes life doesn’t seem wondrous, especially when we get bogged down with responsibility. But time goes so fast. I need to post that word “wonder” where I’ll see it every day and be reminded.

    1. I have to be reminded, too, especially when the time gets tight and “life” gets in the way. The way we think and the way we process words and images are truly wondrous. Let’s enjoy!

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