Look at that
Cynicism, like wrinkles and thinning hair, seems to become more prevalent as we age. Frequently I have stated with utmost confidence that “I have seen it all,” but then something happens to surprise me. Gone are the days when expectation and excitement sets the tone for the morning. In its place I glance at the daily weather forecast with frustrations, I complain about my schedule with a sense of resignation and I harbor more enthusiasm about my leftover lunch than about learning something new. When someone tries to offer me a fresh idea or perspective, I yawn while my mind wanders. Sometimes my mind just gets up and walks away. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before and I’ve seen it all.
Something happened this weekend to change that. We had the privilege of spending a day with one of our grandchildren. When you spend time with a 2-year-old child you are forced to see things differently. As with any toddler, when they learn something new it tends to be practiced with religious intensity. Playing, bedtime routines, reading stories, running, jumping and mealtimes all are governed to some degree by the obsessive-compulsive tendencies of the toddler in the family. Take bedtime for example.
The careful arrangement of the dolls and stuffed animals around the perimeter of the bed is essential to seamless bedtime transition. First is big doll, then little doll, then a host of stuffed animals including the cuddly pig named Piggly Wiggly after the local grocery store. Each has their assigned place and each needs to be in their place before the final bedtime story is over.
Two-year-olds also are in the process of learning to communicate. Words and phrases are used over and over in every situation. Practice makes perfect. One of the new phrases Gracie was using recently is a simple phrase, “Look at that!”
Repetition has a way of dulling our senses but for her it was amazement. Each new thing was greeted with “Look at that!” Pretty leaves, new toys, fresh snow and even scrambled eggs produced the same fresh interest and amazement. While at a restaurant enjoying Sunday brunch she was given a small piece of cake with a twist of frosting on the top. In her typical fashion her eyes became big as she admired her dessert. “Look at that,” she exclaimed.
Her childish innocence worked well to dampen my load of cynicism. Looking at something in this manner instills wonder and awe for the simplest things around us. Sunsets, bugs, yellow and red maples trees, twisted frosting and even fresh snow, it can all be a never-ending source of wonder and awe.
I was inspired to really look at things, not with just a glance but with a sense of discovery and interest. I longed to feel the same thrill at seeing the commonplace with a new perspective. Now when I get up in the morning, if my wife makes me coffee and breakfast, I am going to sit back and enjoy and say, “Look at that!”