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Building Life's Totem Pole With Wonder at the Base - a Perspective

Updated on October 31, 2020
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Shauna writes about a variety of topics in various genres, governed by whatever motivates her muse.

The first lesson Christopher learned was how to breathe air.
The first lesson Christopher learned was how to breathe air. | Source

In the beginning

From the time we first enter this world, life is full of wonder. That is, after we re-learn how to breathe, which happens in a split second. Think about it. As soon as a baby emerges from the birth canal she has to discover – all on her own, mind you – how to breathe air rather than amniotic fluid. That in and of itself is a wondrous act. And a bit scary, too. Perhaps that’s why not a single person on earth remembers life in the womb or that first breath of air. In a split second, survival instinct is put into action and a new life begins. Breathing is the very first lesson learned in life. The foundation is now laid for a lifetime of wonder, exploring, learning and building character.

Life begins with wonder.

Everything a newborn sees, hears, smells and touches is brand new. Each moment is a moment of discovery and learning. Just imagine! Mama and baby both have to learn when nourishment is required and how to provide it, as it is one of the most vital requirements of survival.

What is that round thing coming at my face? I wonder what it wants? It’s coming closer! What do I do with it? Oh – ok. Hmm, this is pretty nice. Hey – when I go like this (smack smack smack) the thing releases warm sweet stuff and now my tummy feels better. And I hear Mommy’s heartbeat just like when I was in that other place. I feel so safe and warm. I like this!

The parents’ world is suddenly filled with wonder when a newborn arrives. Each specific cry must be identified in order for the parents to provide comfort for the needs signaled by the only form of communication at this stage - crying. Just watching a baby discover new things is awe-inspiring and fills the world with wonder and a new outlook on – or remembrance of - the simple pleasures in life.

A Note About My Son's Birth

Christopher was born on July 13, 1992 at Special Beginnings Birthing Center in Orlando, Florida. I delivered him naturally with the help of a midwife. I was not in a hospital setting, rather a Victorian style bedroom. My husband was present the entire time. As soon as I was able to walk on my own, we (all three of us) were released. We stopped off at the pediatrician's office so Christopher could get a clean bill of heath and have his birth certificate certified. When we arrived home, my precious son was a mere 10 hours old. My parents met us there. I have a photo of my dad holding Christopher as soon as we got home. He was in a complete state of wonder in holding his grandson, in my living room, at less than a half day old!

Nourishment is one of the first things a new mom and infant learn.  (I wasn't too keen on being interrupted for a photo op. This was always a bonding time for me and Christopher)
Nourishment is one of the first things a new mom and infant learn. (I wasn't too keen on being interrupted for a photo op. This was always a bonding time for me and Christopher) | Source

Unconditional Love - a True Wonder of the World

As a child learns the basics in life – how to crawl and eventually how to walk, talk, feed and dress herself, how to read and ask questions – a deep and trusting love grows. It’s an unconditional love between parents and child that rivals no other. The bond between parents and their children is one of the most precious wonders of the world. It is special and unique. Love is an awesome feeling, but the love between a parent and child has a special warmth and everlasting bond that cannot be duplicated.

The warmth and security of the love a child feels allows his or her imagination to expand, explore and seek answers. Wonder is the force that sets the wheels of learning in motion. Children love to learn – they are sponges for knowledge. From learning comes a sense of pride. Remember when your children first mastered the ABCs or learned to count from one to ten? They were so proud! And so were you. Children become thirsty for more knowledge with each skill they master and each hurdle they overcome.

How, when and why does the sense of wonder, the thirst for knowledge and the pride in achieving new goals fall off the totem pole of life?

What Happens to the Wonder in Our Lives?

At some point in a person’s life, the sense of wonder, the yearning for more knowledge, the sense of pride in oneself and the need to work towards their innermost dreams seems to fade or fall to the wayside altogether. Why? What happened to the wonder? What happened to moving forward and meeting new challenges? Are these yearnings reserved for the young? No, they are not! So, what happens?

Age and ‘stuff’ happens.

Oh, we still wonder. I wonder if I can afford to send my kids to college. I wonder how I’m going to pay the mortgage this month. I wonder if my boss will give me a raise (I really want that Lexus!) I wonder if so-and-so still thinks I’m pretty?

Our wonder, that at one time, led to learning, bettering ourselves and reaching for our dreams gets re-directed (and sometimes misguided) towards stress, burdens, financial gain, living to work instead of working to live and the myriad of social and status traps that leech onto us as we travel into adulthood and take on responsibility.

The thing is, we all get sucked into it at some point in time – often without even realizing it’s happened. We think we’re doing just fine. Bill collectors aren’t knocking at the door, the credit card payments are up to date, there’s food on the table. Life is hunky dory right? Maybe and maybe not.

When was the last time you took a vacation? Do you have money left over at the end of the month or are you just getting by? Do you even have enough money to pay the bills or do you rely on credit cards to supplement what your income doesn’t cover?

What are your dreams? Remember them? You know, the ones you had when you were a kid and didn’t have the burdens you have today. Dreams are sparked by wonder – the positive aspects of wonder. Have you let them fall to the wayside because you’ve been too busy climbing the corporate ladder? Have you forgotten to build your totem pole of life? You’re not finished until you reach your personal dream, located at the top of your totem pole. Have you cut it off at the knees?

If you are still breathing, there is time to breathe life back into your totem pole.

Where are you on the totem pole of life?

Are you striving for your dreams or have you given up?

See results

Don't Let Wonder Turn Into Regret

Yes, we all have to sacrifice when we become parents. We put our dreams on hold in order to concentrate on teaching our children and supporting them in a way to allow them to become the adults they dream of being. Their wonder of everything around them is the foundation of their totem pole of life. We offer the tools to help them build that totem pole and to aid them in the journey they set for themselves through their own dreams. Once your job is done, you are free to pick up where you left off.

It is vital that you do so. Pick up where you left off. Dream, strive and achieve. Don’t let wonder turn into regret.

I wonder if I would have made it as a writer? I wonder when I lost confidence in myself? I wonder what would have become of me had I reached for my dreams? I wonder if I’ll end my life on this earth regretting that I didn’t give myself a chance?

Reach inside to that child that still dwells within you. Sure, you’ve gotten older, but you haven’t lost the foundation that began building itself the day you were born. Wonder is where it all started. Take that wonder and turn it into curiosity, fascination, and hunger for knowledge. Turn it into the fuel needed to achieve your dreams.

Re-learn how to breathe and begin a new life.

What a Wonderful Song Composed and Sung by a Young Girl Who is Still Full of Wonder

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Shauna L Bowling


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