You know, it used to be that a person could get away with spinning a yarn (not that I ever did), and it would stand as if it were unexaggerated truth. I suppose up until the Google age, one could write novels of interesting “facts” and the reader would be enthralled. And then came the age of verification of every little item, and now articles and books and statements are debunked. Now even known facts such as may appear in Wikipedia are debunked. Two great reads that became business school books were recently debunked, and one great diet book was recently debunked. Who is one to believe?
Recently I saw a great quote by Tom Waits, so great that I used it in a lecture at a college to an entrepreneurial group. Said he “Everything is explained now. We live in an age when you say casually to somebody “what’s the story on that?” And they can run to the computer and tell you within five seconds. That’s fine, but sometimes I’d just as soon continue wondering. We have a deficit of wonder right now.”
I loved that statement and looked around the room as students were at that very moment debunking my lecture. I said to them that it would be wonderful if we could lay aside our electronic devices for a moment and not jump as Pavlov’s dog whenever something goes ding, or buzzes in our pocket. Wouldn’t it be great to be free from distractions and facts while we have a chance to wonder?
One of the most profound moments in my life was the night of September 11, 2001. When I walked out into the evening air, it was late at night. No clouds, just stars. No noises of aircraft, they had all been grounded, no blinking lights. Just stars, the night, the crisp September air in Colorado, and the very frightful events of that day.
I wondered. I wondered if our family would be OK. I wondered if our country would be OK. I wondered about a lot of things that night. Though the airwaves were full of data, the emptied night sky (in terms of commercial activity) left me alone with my thoughts. I took the time to say a prayer. I listened to the silence.
I believe life is better when we can wonder. I believe we enjoy more of life when there are longer periods between the question and the answer. I believe we have more joy when we can look into a child’s eyes and wonder—and so see their wonder.
So here is a shout out to all who wish the factomaniacs would stop googling long enough to allow us a space for wonder. It’s OK to be mostly right and allow the wonder to fill in the gaps as we live. I know some reader will write to tell me how much more enjoyable life is with all of the facts before them. I say that when I go around the corner of the unknown and my eyes feast upon the unanticipated joy as it unfolds—my wonder deepens, and my sense of being is all the better.