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When do we lose our sense of wonder?

March 17, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

I had a little bit of business to do at the Brooke County Courthose Saturday morning, and as I was leaving I noticed a little boy throwing a couple of rocks or maybe chunks of wood into the river.

Such a simple action, and yet he seemed to enjoy it.

He started pointing to the river and calling for who I'm guessing was his father. He had spotted a large piece of driftwood floating along. Not much to most of us, but he seemed enthralled by the sight.

The other day, I met some friends to go over plans for our upcoming high school reunion. One friend brought her son, who spent much of the time playing with a couple of his action figures, not paying mind to anything else going on.

I could remember doing the same thing when I was about his age. Back then, for me anyway, it was usually He-Man or G.I. Joe. My brother and I would usually get one or two as birthday or Christmas presents.

We would almost immediately rip them out of the packaging and set up little scenarios, playing for what seemed like hours, but could have really only been a few minutes.

We also had a bunch of Legos and would just sit around building random things.

That was back when most people were limited to block-looking buildings or maybe really small cars, before there were large kits showing you how to put together vehicles from "Star Wars," and other movies or television programs.

I can remember sitting out in the yard and being mesmerized as a line of military cargo planes flew overhead during training missions.

I could spend hours gazing at the stars, just letting my imagination wander thinking about all the possibilities out there in the unknown.

At some point, though, we lost that ability. As we get older, those things which opened the doors of our imagination and took us on magical adventures, or those things which just seemed so wonderous, now seem trivial or even a nuisance.

Somewhere along the road of life we are overtaken by the daily grind of chores, jobs and responsibility that we often lose that sense of wonder.

These days especially it seems like so many of us are just so worn down by all the negative that we forget to try and experience some of the great things this world still has to offer.

Setting off on great adventures or letting our minds travel into the cosmos eventually gives way to worrying about our weight, paying bills, and figuring out when we should cut our grass.

I've always enjoyed reading, for example. It gave me an escape to stick my nose in a book and let the words take me to another place.

As part of my job, however, I spend most of my days reading over articles, fixing any mistakes I might find.

These days when I read, I have a tendency to let that work mode come in and I'll find myself spotting an incorrect spelling or bad punctuation.

It makes the book less enjoyable; less wonderful.

I can remember the first time I flew on an airplane. I was so excited for that new experience, being able to look out the window and see the world stretch out beneath me.

That trip was also my first visit to Walt Disney World, which, even though I was scared of Mickey Mouse, I was amazed by the massive theme park and all the rides.

Part of me still is. It's that little bit of youth that stays with us if we let it. It might not always show itself, but it's there.

Even though I don't always enjoy the preparation of going on trips, I still like to travel, even if it's just to have a weekend somewhere.

It's especially enjoyable if it's somewhere new; something I've never seen or experienced except maybe through travel programs on television.

I've been fortunate in my job that I still have some exposure to those wonderous moments of our youth.

I get to see the excitement of a group of kids when they realize their picture is going to be in the newspaper.

I see the enjoyment they experience when their school gets a surprise visitor.

I see the thrill as they open up those little plastic eggs and get a treat just before Easter.

It would do us all some good to try and remember those times.

I know there are major problems in this world. Some can be taken care of with hard work and cooperation, while others may never truly be solved.

I understand it is a lot to take on and it drags us all down in one way or another.

But at the same time, we can't let all the world's problems affect us all the time.

We need to spend some time trying to look for the positive in life. It might be a little more difficult as we get older, but it's still there.

We might not be able to recapture it by playing out little adventures with action figures, but maybe just a nice nature walk or a bicycle ride.

There are still great things to see, experiences to enjoy and a lot of life to live. All we have to do is let ourselves, even if it's just for a little bit every once in a while.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at

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