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What's Become of Wonder?
Garden of your mind
There's a wonderful, quirky video recently out on PBS YouTube, setting Mr. Rogers' voice to a synthesized singing of the song, "Garden of Your Mind", which I've posted below. As I was watching it - three times - I realized not only was it cool, but it synthesizes much of my thinking these days. The very first post of the very first online blog I created back in 2005 dealt with wonder, and whether ours will ever cease. I think our current culture is trending toward short, cynical answers, predicated on a very limited sense of options.
It's been said that the only constant is change. That has become a bit cliche, but it doesn't make it any less relevant. We need to use history as backdrop to our decision-making, and to make sure we don't make the exact same errors again and again in a whirlpool of redundancy. But we also have to stop thinking we're doomed. I wrote a hub called Pushing the Outer Edge that talked about people who explore the outer reaches of human physical potential. I'm even more drawn by people who explore the furthest reaches of intellectual, emotional and spiritual potential.
And that requires a sense of wonder. Of possibilities. Of seeing whether the limits we've created for ourselves are real or imaginary.
Most people will read that as a collective statement - as if I'm talking about society, politics, the human condition, etc. I'm talking about me. I'm talking about you. As an individual. As in, "Look Mom, no hands..."
"Discontent is the first necessity of progress." ~ Thomas Edison
Curiosity killed the ...
Curiosity has an interesting stigma. Curiosity killed the cat. Curious George - always getting into trouble. So what's the message - to stop being curious? To just go with the flow? I can understand the need to protect someone from harm - like a child, but is there something wrong with wondering about something, and thus creating, inventing, postulating?
"A man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is a vagabond." ~ Oliver Goldsmith
See what I mean? There's a connotative attachment to the aspect of curiosity that seems to unnerve us. We sense the curious person asks ceaseless questions of useless value, and conclude he's a little thick in the head. That's possible. But why does the thought of being unintelligent automatically follow mention of following one's sense of wonder?
So much comes from the universe to reinforce the message to stay put, watch yourself, know your limits, be careful. We know all of this. And if you're reckless, own it. Get some boundaries, see a therapist, read a self-help book, learn what you need to know. But this hub isn't about those people. It's about those of us who sometimes feel constrained by false barriers. It's for those who go back to Disneyland and remember how awesome it felt to feel the magic of creation and possibility.
I love watching movies created for children - so full of possibility. Several years back, I watched "Meet the Robinsons" and afterward, found myself feeling strangely inspired. As a grown-up, we have to play it cool, of course, lest we appear as though we've lost our composure. Of course, that movie is made for children. But can't we remember what that was like, as adults, and using our mature sense of boundaries, stop smirking and realize that Casey Kasem's silly byline of "Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars" was perhaps not so silly after all?
"Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision." ~ Aldous Huxley
“Too many people grow up. That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don't remember what it's like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won't do that.” ~ Walt Disney
The question of limits
I'm with Walt, Fred, and Casey. We know we have limits. I choose to push myself toward the possible. No one has to be perfect, or worry about having a momentary rant. This place where we live is flawed; we're flawed; I'm flawed. Who cares?
It was in this spirit that I asked recently the question of hubpages authors: "what would you do if you had no limits?" I love the responses I received. I feel that people don't have enough opportunities to explore their outer reaches of potential. The responses included those who said they would like to be able to fly, to explore and discover our world, to further the joy and satisfaction in giving, to cure cancer and other diseases, to travel, to harness clean power, to teach resilience, to exercise personal discipline, to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, to shake your groove thing, to acknowledge the value of reasonable limits. I respect and value the incredible responses received from random strangers who responded to this question.
I want to celebrate our awareness, as well as the strength of conviction we possess, collectively and individually, to make our world a better place. There are myriad advocates out there espousing views and perspective on how they feel the world should work more effectively, if people were to follow their prescriptive model of human behavior. Kudos to each of them for giving a shit about the human condition, regardless of whether you and I agree.
The key is that we need to continue to stay awake to the potential that exists for us, in each and every moment. We share a world that asks nothing of us, but also hopes for our enlightened input for improvement. And we exist individually as citizens in that community. So there is both an individual and a collective perspective, as well as responsibility. All I'm asking is that we continue to stay awake. Stay vigilant to what is truly important. And stay true to ourselves, such that we don't lose sight of the sanctity of life - our own, our neighbors, and the collective of mankind. Using Maslow's Hierarchy, once we've ensured we have satisfied the need for food and shelter for ourselves and our families, I just hope we can exercise good judgment, predicated on the hope that we can all move forward with the potential to become astonishingly fulfilled and happy.
My hope, and prayer, is that you feel that energy through my words. And understand that each of us has a series of choices, in every moment, that can improve the sanctity of life, and help our neighbors navigate more successfully through the life each of us has been given. Wonder, and curiosity are an essential ingredient to progress. I hope that each of us learns how to exercise it in respectful, purposeful and meaningful ways.
“It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” - Paulo Coelho
"Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably." - Walt Disney