Our grandson, Henry, has found his first words. (Actually, he is working on others now as well.) But the first ones were, “Oh, Wow!” And they are almost always accompanied by a little hand pointing at something — the picture of sheer delight and wonder. The experience of watching him respond to the world around him has reminded me of some important truths:
All too often the journey into adulthood is one of accumulating cynicism. The “Oh, Wow!” moments of delight and wonder give way to “Oh, Sure” moments of weary and wary distrust. But the loss of delight and wonder is not a measure of sophistication.
A capacity for wonder is directly related to our ability to remain open, pliable, imaginative, and teachable. An “Oh, Wow” moment can lead to discovery and growth. An “Oh, sure” mindset knows everything it needs to know, forecloses on fresh insights, and judges the world from a single, suspicious point of view.
Henry’s first words have also reminded me of this: Not all wisdom comes with the passage of time. It is not the exclusive (or inevitable) gift of aging. And there are times when the wisest thing we can do is to embrace the lessons a child has to teach us.