Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IN THE GUTTER – Lessons From My Grandchildren

My daughter sent me this photo this morning. She said, “Hey dad, the kids were delighted that raindrops falling into a puddle could create bubbles.”


This delights me too—at so many levels: that my daughter thinks of me at such moments of discovery and wonder; that she and her husband show my grandchildren not just the joys of being outdoors—in any kind of weather, I should add—but encourage them to look carefully, inquisitively, creatively; that the kids have learned to not just welcome wonder, but expect it;

Wonder exists at many levels, and they’re not always the most obvious. To get beyond the commonplace and see the real miracle, one often has to invest an extra measure of curiosity, creativity or just plain old patience.

And that’s what I find most interesting about my grandchildren’s experience with the puddle. They could have been drawn in by those golden, glowing leaves. It could have been the water and its unique properties—the reflections, the clarity, and certainly those amazing ripples.

Perhaps they did notice all that, but what they were especially drawn to were the bubbles, a wonder even more ephemeral.

I so appreciate my daughter today for those lessons she so thoughtfully mediates between generations.

Kids are naturally good at wonder; they’re hard-wired for it. Getting them outdoors, letting them stop, look and play, allows those circuits to fire, powering their health and happiness in many ways.

They learn the most basic—and some would say most sophisticated—lessons about themselves and their relationship with the spaces around them, about beauty, about humility and a concern for things beyond themselves.

Sometimes, as I get carried away with my writing and the work entailed in bringing it to a growing readership, I lose track of that inevitable question about teachers and students: who’s teaching whom?

I forget that, as much as I may have taught my children and grandchildren about curiosity and wonder, they continue to teach me at least as much—about perspective, spontaneity, joy and, ultimately, love.

I so appreciate my daughter today for those lessons she so thoughtfully mediates between generations. And this, perhaps, is what those fleeting bubbles have to say to those who stop and listen: life and love, like wonder, are fragile. No matter what the distractions, we must keep our ears open or we may not hear it.


spldbch said...

Children have so much to teach us - or maybe to remind us. It's so easy to forget what it was like to be a child, full or curiosity and wonder. As we grow, we are conditioned to attend to other things and we forget what once came naturally. Spending some time with a child is always a powerful reminder, at least for me.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi spldbch -- Those are really good points. I think we all still have that spark of spontaneity, joy, curiosity, playfulness. The trick's to dig it out now and then from under the murky layers of structure, stress & cynicism.

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