Thereís one thing in my life that I have recently been coming to grips with: I will never slay a dragon. Now, donít laughÖYou laughed, didnít you? Well, Iím actually being serious. I mean, logically, practically and sanely Iíve always known that dragons didnít exist, and that Iíd never come face to face with one, and if I ever did Iíd be eaten or burned to a crisp or other equally nasty thing within seconds. I know these things the same way that I know the sky is blue. Itís obvious. All I have to do is look up, yet deep down some seven year old version of me is shaking that little wooden sword that I never had, and insisting that I embark on some massive quest across field and forest, as well as marsh and desert. Insisting that of course dragons exist, and of course if I ever met one - weíd engage in an epic battle. Of the dragon would be the one who comes out the worse in that situation.
However, recently Iíve been feeling that seven year old fade. She is nowhere near as insistent as she used to be, and Iíve found myself knowing as securely as normal. Sane people probably know that I will never slay a dragon, and Iím okay with thatÖ and Iím not okay that Iím okay with that.
Perhaps this is the Ďgrowing upí people always tell me about. Is my imagination fading? Am I finally losing the seven year old that shows me what wonders are alive in this world? To be perfectly honest, this thought terrifies me, and so I scramble for wonder and adventure in a world that seems pretty devoid of the kind of wonder and adventure that I grew up dreaming about. Therefore Iíve been looking desperately for pieces of that wonder in this comparatively boring world. I have all but given up on the Grand Fantasy Adventure, now that Iím on a different quest. This is my Quest for Everyday Wonders. During my not-so-epic quest, I have discovered a few things; things that I am now going to share with all of our brilliant Self Avenue readers, because itís never too late to quest for some wonder.
Little Things are Fascinating
How many times a day do you look down?
How many times a day do you look up?
How many times have you admired that really cool ring of bubbles that forms; just when a pot is about to boil? How many times have you literally stopped to smell some overgrowing roses?
The smallest things in our lives can be the most interesting if you let them. Perhaps you donít have time to stop and smell some overgrowing roses, but if you honestly donít have time to do something that takes anywhere from 1-5 seconds; then Iím terribly sorry, but you may be headed towards a heart attack sometime soon. But perhaps you donít walk anywhere, ever (which, I have to say, triggers another heart attack warning); so go ahead and look at the ground every once in a while.
Seriously, itís not just dirt down there. Okay, sometimes it is just dirt, yet dirt can look pretty cool sometimes. When you walk for instance; occasionally it actually looks like the earth is curving towards your feet. And then there are all the different kinds of rocks that can be found in dirt, which is to say nothing of grass. On this, I am referring to natural grass; not the kind you'll find in specially planted lawns; but the kind that grows in parks; on nature strips, and in peopleís backyards when they havenít been looked after in a while. There are a thousand different kinds of plants down there. Having spent many years looking down, I can assure you that what you find under your feet is not just a uniform expanse of green. Thereís all the numerous tiny features of pavement and concrete, as well as peopleís discarded gum making odd shapes - or that has been warn so black by dirt that itís just a small, dark spot. If theres a lot around, and youíre feeling a little insane - you can try and make constellations out of them (gross? Yes, but interesting none the less); juxtaposing cracks that can make interesting shapes or look like lightning trapped forever in grey concrete; or prints of animals; or plants; or even a couple of times shoes from when it was not quite dry. These tiny, insignificant things all speak of something bigger than us. Whether itís a footprint of a person youíll probably never meet and wouldnít know if you did; or that one red, yellow or white rose that just demands to be sniffed: or even the strange way the ground sometimes looks like itís curving to meet your feet as you walk...all of these tiny things are part of something greater. They're part of a larger world that is more massive, wonderful and strange than most people would ever believe. Which leads me to my next point.
Big Things Are Fascinating
Once upon a time there was a bacterium. That bacterium was all alone, and therefore it split into two bacteria. Those two bacteria got tired of each other (one of them refused to do the washing up), so they split into four, and then eight right through sixteen and on and on until a group of bacteria decided to bunch together to try and eat more things. Over time more groups of bacteria decided to bunch together, and then it became a race to see who could make the biggest bunch of bacteria. Eventually, a bunch of bacteria got so big that it could no longer be called a bunch of bacteria. It was now an animal in a very two dimensional, not-really-much-going-on-beyond-the-fact-that-it-has-something-that-could-potentially-be-called-a-brain kind of way. Once one group of bacteria became a simple animal; all the other bacteria wanted to be a simple animal, because thatís how trends work. Although, it must be said that some bacteria didnít want to become animals, because they didnít want to follow the trend. These were the first hipsters.
Anyway, eventually an animal developed teeth. Then all the other animals had to either develop teeth too, or develop ways to protect themselves from teeth. So they did, because the ones who didnít got eaten very, very quickly. This kept happening for a couple billion years, and then someone discovered a beach somewhere and developed legs; and of course, once one thing develops legs; everyone else has to develop legs. There was a time when a whole bunch of big lizards were walking around (a time that lasted a measly 165,000,000 years ), but they were killed by a meteor of snow, or someone caught a cold. When one thing gets a cold, then everything else has to get a cold. Once something dies from that cold, then everything else dies from that cold. There was nothing much going on besides the fact that birds, modern reptiles and flowers happened. Mammals happened too, but they werenít much better than those big lizards. I mean, every dinosaur knows to rub against a tree when their back itches, and if you use those freaky weird hands to break off a piece of tree to rub on your back; then thatís not such a huge achievement. However, those mammals kept making little achievements until roughly 200,000 years ago , and things that eventually called themselves Ďpeopleí appeared.
Therefore the Ďpeopleí did a whole heap of really, really cool stuff, however, hereís what I want you to focus on: you. Yes I do mean you personally are the result of a single unbroken line of life forms stretching right back through the ages to that single bacteria that got lonely and decided to split. Let me just reiterate that: your ancestors were alive at the same time as the dinosaurs, and once again, you are directly related to tiny single celled organisms swimming in the primordial soup. Those things contained DNA that would eventually go into making up you. If that doesnít inspire some kind of awe or wonder in you, then nothing I can say will. Now thereís probably a whole lot wrong, scientifically speaking, with this entire section; however that can be a challenge. Fact check me, and go searching for actual theories of evolution written by people who know what theyíre talking about. Let me assure you that Darwinís isnít the only scientific oath out there. Look at that, this section has already gone on too long, and I havenít even touched on the fact that there is very possibly a planet made of diamonds out there in the universe somewhere . Oh well, Iíll leave that up to you to find out.
For now, and onwards.
The Things Inside You are Fascinating
The amount of foreign cells and bacteria in your body, as opposed to cells that actually contain your biological information is about ten to one; one being the cells that contain your biological information . So thatís one cell that comes from you to every ten cells that donít. This is a fairly well-known fact. Hereís a different way of looking at it: you are a walking eco-system. Now, I donít want to freak out any Germophobes, so if you want to, you can go take a bath and forget about the above paragraph, and then come back here and keep reading. Iíll waitÖ
Back? Good. Hereís another, less gross fact; no-one ever, in the entirety of human history will ever read this article the same way as you. From the tens, dozens, and (hopefully) hundreds that end up seeing this article; none of them will ever interpret it the exact same way as you do. Your thoughts, feelings and emotions are utterly, completely and totally unique. Now, this might seem like a reiteration of what your teacher said in kindergarten when you had to repeat the phrase Ďeverybodyís specialí without truly understanding what that means; and in many ways it is. Except this time Iím treating you as an adult, and you now have the mental capacity to truly process what it means to be unique. If youíve gotten this far, I can only hope that youíll be receptive to what I have to say in this next bit.
You have had a totally unique reaction to everything that has ever happened in your life. Even if it happened to other people at the same time; however the way you thought about it, as well as the way you felt about it, and the way you dealt with it was specific to you, and you alone. Take school (Iím going to assume that everyone reading this has gone to school); your journey throughout school was wholly unique. Even if you only ever went to one school in the back of beyond that boasted a total student count of fifteen; the way that you thought, felt, and dealt with school was/is totally different to anybody else going to that school. Sure, some of your thoughts, feelings or methods of dealing may have coincided with some other peopleís, and those people probably became your friends; but overall as a whole, no-one has ever lived school the way you lived school, and no-one ever will again. You were and are an event that will never, ever, be repeated. Your life, thoughts, feelings, goals, fears, loves, hates and all of the other messy, gross, and just plain weird stuff that goes into making up your life will never happen in the same way to create you ever again. This makes you precious. It makes you rare. No matter what, thereís only ever going to be one of you, and so you must look after your precious life. However you already know that, because youíre here, reading this, instead of going off to watch your favourite T.V show, or reading a book or something else. You're here learning about wonder, and how to regain it.
So whether you sniff roses, or look at the ground; or think about evolution or a planet made of diamonds - or the very fact that your life will never ever be repeated; or even none of these things - then here is my challenge to you. If you have made it this far, you should be good and motivated right now. I know I am, so I am issuing you with a challenge. Search for wonder. Search for awe. Search for things that make you stop and think. Think about ordinary things strangely. Do whatever you can to have an interesting thought before you go to bed, and pick it out as you drift asleep. Turn it over; admire its shine, and think about all of the riches you have acquired over this quest; and think about all of the beautiful riches you are sure to gain tomorrow. Youíre making a good start by reading this article, and by reading this website in general; however thereís a whole world out there full of wonders, adventures and fascinating things to see and learn. Never stop learning. That is your challenge. Always be on the lookout for those Everyday Wonders, because that is the best and easiest life gem to locate. You have your quest, now go for it.