looking for wonder.

This was a timely read so close to The Magicians, in which the main character struggled immensely with finding joy in his life.  Life After God was recommended by my pastor in a sermon over a year ago.  I was fascinated by what he quoted from this fictional story and ordered the book immediately, only to have it sit in my to-read pile for a year.  But, I am glad to have read it in light of both my current mental state and recent reading life.  It seemed to continue the conversations in my mind springing from both places.

The book itself is pocket size, though a couple inches thick. The narrator is a man in his 30s or 40s who is currently separated from his wife and tells his non linear story mostly through vignette-style memories: snapshots of his life and how he got to his current place of thinking, which is filled mostly with sadness a bit of nostalgia.

And then sometimes I think the people to feel saddest for are people who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder–people who closed the doors that lead us into the secret world–or who had the doors closed for them by time and neglect and decisions made in times of weakness (51).

Wonder reminds me of what it feels like to be truly alive.  I’ve written about it here, and I’m surprised I haven’t written about it more because I would normally describe myself as a person looking out for it.  Though, I think my eye was better trained for wonder in the days when I was writing poetry on a regular basis, so in love with what was in front of me that I couldn’t not try to capture it in words.  That’s the reason that I could relate to this narrator quite a bit: my sense of wonder has been a bit off recently.  It’s the kind of thing I didn’t notice until the symptoms of cynicism started manifesting in my life.

I lost my breath a bit when I read the narrator talking about his wife, scared that I saw a bit of her in myself of late:

She remembers when the world was full of wonder–when life was a strand of magic moments strung together, a succession of mysteries revealed, leaving her feeling as though she was in a trance. She remembers back when all it took to make her feel like she was a part of the stars was to simply talk about things like death and life and the universe.  She doesn’t know how to reclaim that sense of magic anymore (138).

I think it is the magic that helps us get by; the small moments that remind us of what is beautiful and true, that come as a surprise when the rest of life does not feel beautiful.  It petrifies me to think about life without a sense of wonder.  I’ve taken to becoming a tourist in my own town, though, this week, snapping signs-of-life pictures.  I know a lot of people who talk about reclaiming their morning for grounding themselves in truth–and I think I need to reclaim my sense of wonder and breathe deeply and spring seeps in once again.  This must be my response to Quentin, from The Magicians, who blocked off his heart to the point that he was completely blind to wonder.

{sunday-six-thirty-light and signs-of-life outside my window}
{hudson street, west village}
{third street, park slope}

2 thoughts on “looking for wonder.

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