Saturday, August 10, 2013

Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder

By Alan Vernon [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I love to gaze out the bay window in my kitchen while reading the morning newspaper. A few days ago, I watched a Monarch butterfly and a black Swallowtail butterfly perform a delicate ballet as they grazed on the white flowers of a Crepe Myrtle. My pleasure multiplied when a green hummingbird joined in the dance. I sat mesmerized for several minutes as the flying creatures moved about the plant, feeding from nature’s bounty. Then the bird buzzed away, breaking the spell.

Although I’m closer to 100 than 50 years old, I have never lost my child-like sense of wonder. The intricacies of the world around us are still amazing to me. When I go out on a clear night, I am at once reminded of the psalmist’s poem, “When I gaze upon the night sky and consider all the works thy hand has made…what is man that you are mindful of him?” We live in an awe-inspiring universe, the parts of which move according to immutable physical laws that have existed for eons.

The world is filled with beauty—the fragrant blooms of flowers, the towering waterfalls at Yosemite, the fluffy white clouds of a summer afternoon. Human beings can also be beautiful. Two weeks ago, I met a woman who is 93 years old.  Her eyes sparkled with life. She was sharp as a tack and in excellent physical condition. She was still beautiful. Beauty is not exclusively for the young.

I believe that a sense of wonder is an essential element of a fiction writer’s toolbox. Wonder inspires our creative juices, sharpening our ability to write compelling descriptions. One of my favorite reviews of my novel, Fall Eagle One, contained the phrase, “I felt that I was there!” I do not feel that a writer could receive higher praise.

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