Monday, October 19, 2015

Keeping the Stars in Your Eyes

Last week was homecoming. In addition to the football game and other day activities, we had a parade circling around campus. I've always loved pomp and circumstance, and you can't ask for much more of that than a parade, so I wandered around for a good half hour before I finally found a good place to watch. I could hear the echoes of bag pipes and tubas, but I couldn't figure out where they were. I didn't dare ask anybody for directions in case wanting to see the parade turned out to be another cute little freshman desire. Maybe the reason I couldn't find anybody else looking for it was because nobody cared.
At last, I found a spot at sat down beside some other girls to watch the parade go by. After a while I thought, "Really, this isn't something spectacular. Cars with banners. T-shirted club members with bags of taffy. Teenage girls in lots of makeup waving from streamered platforms moving down the road." Parades quit being fun when you strip them down to their parts instead of the sum.
But then, so does everything.
Halfway through our poetry unit, my English professor joked that poets in general Emily Dickinson in particular must have had what she called "low wonder thresholds." Emily probably walked downstairs in the morning, gasped, "BREAKFAST!" And ran back to her room with enough inspiration for a month. How else could she wax poetic about such simple things for so long?

The most valuable thing children have is wonder. We lose that as we get older. Partly because the shininess of the world wears off the longer we live in it. We've seen enough sunrises, what's one more? A miracle? Sunrise just means breakfast, breakfast just means getting ready for the day, getting ready for the day, getting ready for the day just means leaving home, leaving home just means eight hours until you get to come back.
In my non-GE classes, I hear older students moan about how college is hard and it's getting old and could they just graduate already and what to do after graduation and life is haaaaaaard. They've lost the stars. But I'm determined to keep them for as long as possible.
A few days ago I went to the cafeteria for breakfast and got hash browns, yummy runny eggs, and an English muffin, all on the same plate! I sat down by some stranger. He asked "How are you", but instead of answering back with a "Fine", I told him how excited I was for my breakfast. Because I honestly was. I've checked the university app every day since to see when that meal will come around again. I've gone to lectures and club events and campus activities just because they sound fun. I'm still marveling at all the ways college is different from high school. The library has a 3D printer and I can make anything I want! My civ classroom has a back section that rotates like a merry go round! I could take a class in floral design or glass staining or Scandinavian cinema!
I know I'll get a college callous eventually, just like I did for high school and middle school before that, but I'm trying to prolong it. There's still joy to be found in eggs and parades. I don't think poets are born with low wonder thresholds, I think it's a matter of training. You can choose to retain a childlike sense of wonder even as you mature.
I have to believe that. After all, what fun is life if you can't live it with stars in your eyes?

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