Close your eyes and picture the look on a child’s face when you tell them you’re going out for ice cream, the glisten in their eyes when you push them high in a swing, and the joy in their hearts when they run down the beach, barefoot and free.
I’m reminded of some good friends’ of ours and the incredible wonderment that encompasses the lives of their two daughters. These girls are thrilled with the simple joys of life like sprinting down to the shore when the beach gets dark and collecting speckled,brown eggs from the chicken coup in their backyard. They inspire me to hold tight to my admiration and excitement for the world in which we live.
As the years go by, things like finding sea glass on the beach, watching a sensational sunset, seeing a squirrel scurry up a tree, and even the beauty of a sunflower can lose their impressions on us. I guess it’s natural to be unimpressed with something we might get to see daily, but I’m claiming that this really shouldn’t be so.
Imagine how much more enjoyable and full your days would be if you had a sense of wonder about the ordinary. Open your eyes to the shadow cast off of a tall building, the yellow glow on the earth as the sun begins to set, the swift movement of a humming bird, the company of a furry friend, the fragility of a grandmother, and the way water causes vegetation to flourish. There are so many ordinary occurrences, daily spectacles that are full of wonder. If you simply allow these wonders to take your mind away to far-off places, distant from the worries of money and the concerns of your children, you would be enchanted to find the amount of life that is added to your days.
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.
- Abraham Lincoln
This thought concerning our sense of wonder first came to mind a few weeks ago when discussing the zebras that can be seen every-so-often in the cow grazing hills that line Highway 1 in San Simeon. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll give you a brief clue-in.
William Randolph Hearst, a very successful man in the early to mid 1900s, after traveling through Europe, dreamed of building a dwelling similar to the European architecture he had so fondly admired. He pursued this dream, building a magnificent castle in the hills of San Simeon, Ca on a 270,000 acre estate. Hearst also managed to accumulate exotic animals to fill a private zoo on his property to entertain and amaze his guests. He had bears, lions, camels, giraffe, oxen; you name it, he had it! After some time he came into money issues and had to get rid of the animals. Some were sold, others were donated to zoos, but still there were more. By the late 50’s, after Hearst had passed away and the castle was given to the state, the existing animals on the property were let loose to roam free. Llamas, elk, goats, sheep, varieties of deer, and zebras wandered the land; many did not survive. The Zebras however, in all their resilience, did keep an appearance and still can be seen today!
Until this past weekend, I had only ever seen one, maybe two, when traveling through these parts. I was a young girl, about 12, and I was amazed to see zebras outside of a zoo! I told everyone. Some were interested to hear of it, but I found many to be unimpressed. This has always bothered me. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a zebra galloping in cattle fields like regular ol’ horsies. It’s incredible!
On Sunday we drove up the coast to get out of the house and enjoy some local adventure, and boy did we get what we asked for!
Just before entering the urban area of San Simeon, I screamed for David to pull over as black and white objects came into focus on the hills. There were more than 20 zebras scattered beside the freeway! I was dumbfound, wishing I had brought my mega-zoom lens. I did my best with what I had and was able to capture some pictures to show off. (Lesson learned; you never know when you’ll see exotic animals on an ordinary day trip.) We stayed a while, fascinated by the creatures in front of us. We drove farther up the coast to be amused by the dramas of the elephant seals when I saw another herd of probably 15 zebras, even closer to the highway. I felt like a giddy little girl as I jumped out of the car and skipped excitedly to get a closer look.
These curious animals had reawakened my own sense of wonder. Hopping back in the car I considered the things that put me in a place of awe in comparison to other things that I shrug off as “ordinary”. As we drove past spectacular ocean views my husband mentioned how my Instagram feed had been lacking pictures of this vast body of water lately. “You used to post awesome pictures of the ocean back in Carp!” He shared how it’s probably easy is for me to forget about the majestic quality of the ocean when new landscapes up in SLO are occupying my attention. “Don’t neglect the beauty of the ocean because you have grown up gazing upon its waters your whole life.”
How many things, like the ocean, had lost their curiosity for me?, I wondered.
I’m intent on opening wide my eyes and rediscovering the wonderment for the world that I once had as a child. I’d encourage you to do the same! The world we live in is full of wonder; we haven’t even scratched the surface. Add some life to your years. Open your eyes and enjoy all there is to see, touch, hear, smell, and explore!