Oops.

What if science were all subject to a completely innocent, ignorant childlike approach? I can imagine there might still be people attempting flight by means of getting into a big slingshot of some sort and expecting to be transported into a plane, rocket, or shuttle by unknown magical means from there. Talk about missing the point!
Photo: Oops. Or not.

Then again, what if there were no childlike naïveté in the sciences? No one would dare to ask what seemed at first like ridiculous questions or to assume that the apparently remote outlandishness of an idea could prove to be possible, with some study and experimental investigation. No one would fly, other than perhaps falling off a cliff, where the landing is inevitably so much less desirable in form than otherwise. I suspect that taking chances and inquiring about what could be dangerous or at least foolish topics will always appear slightly immature and entirely risky to those who don’t dare to dream, but I’m mighty glad that there are others on this earth who brave the unknown with the heedless enthusiasm one might have expected from a kid.

What if I Never Grow Up?

digitally doctored photoAside from the fact that all of you know already that this is a given rather than a question, I can still pose it rhetorically and ask it of all people in general. See, I think about this a fair amount, and not just because of my own level of maturity at any given time or in any given category. It’s simply a question we all get asked in one way or another at some point, or should jolly well ask ourselves, at the least.

This marvelous Möbius loop of inquiry and insistence begins the first time we are told, as children, that we need to Grow Up, and it can be applied to any number of circumstances. The irony that this mandate is almost invariably handed down to us by a person or persons barely older and more grown than ourselves is of course lost on all of the parties involved, because we’re all too inexperienced and naive and, conversely, too full of ourselves to understand it. The bigger kid tells the littler kid to Grow Up mainly because the elder wants something that the younger has or has simply lost patience with her.

It doesn’t change. When we’re older, the toys and privileges may have changed to different brands of money and power, but as long as we think someone else has more of whichever kind we desire than we do, we’re just as inclined in adulthood to nit-pick at that someone for his supposedly lower maturity levels both as cover for our covetousness and in shallow hopes of shaming him into being more generous than we are ourselves. The failure of this silly system doesn’t change either, but it doesn’t stop the less magnanimous and less mature from nagging at those who are more so, no matter the age or the occasion.

There are perfectly good reasons to wish anybody, including ourselves, would think and act with maturity and keen sense and the wisdom of experience. Those things tend to lead to our being more level-headed in emergencies, more practical in the everyday, and more inclined to share those traits and all sorts of other things with other people–and that leads to better community. Who knows, even World Peace.

But isn’t it grand, all the same, to forever retain a large enough pinch of immaturity and, if not childishness, then at least the ability to be childlike, that we can still look at the wide world with the awe and wonder it requires. We should hang on, with youthful enthusiasm and gleeful tenaciousness, to innocence and hope, to curiosity and rambunctiousness, to unalloyed silliness whenever the moment permits. Maybe we should even be willing to get down there with the actual kids and roll around in the grass once in a while without batting an eye over how dirty it’ll get us or whether it might make our old joints sore tomorrow. If we can’t still do somersaults, then we’d better find other ways to regain and retain our not at all grown up point of view, because the world, especially while it’s still short of outright Peace, can really use a healthy splash of the ridiculous now and again.

 

All that Glisters is Not Gold, but If It’s Shiny It’s Good Enough for Me

Miss Magpie here, reporting for duty. I have been out and about doing errands and chores, being an everyday sort of person in my everyday sort of way, but as always, I am in a constant state of watchfulness, snapping to attention at the slightest glimmer of a sun-ray zinging off the corner of the windscreen, the flicker of movement that snags my eye (ouch!) on a brilliant yellow weed wildflower (and yes, Steve, it was tiny but beautiful), the broad gleam of a hawk’s white underside lighting up like a beacon as he banks away from the sun over our ravine.

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Some things, like this golden gilt cockerel weathervane, are clearly made to dazzle us . . .

While I harbor my exceedingly childlike admiration for the wonderful works of intentional glamor and glitz without any hesitation, I am all the more moved by those things that through their very nature or some moment of perfect serendipity become jeweled treasures to be savored every bit as deeply and wildly. The crinkled aluminum foil from last week’s roast (seen here) becomes in my eyes a stolen bit from the vault of the Crown Jewels; the bottom of an empty jar and its creased shadow on rough concrete is transformed into an alchemist’s beaker bearing a mystical, nearly invisible elixir for eternal romance.

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One sip, and I am transformed into an otherworldly being . . .

Even the most mundane of things can–and should–be able to become beautiful to one with a practiced magpie eye. Thankfully, those around me have patience while I crouch at the curb picking up bits of broken glass and shreds of steel that have fallen off of passing vehicles (probably spaceships, to be sure), while I lag behind on a walk to pick up opalescent beetle-wing shields and bent pins and uselessly blunted coins. And the smallest scrap of Japanese tea-chest paper or damaged disposable pie tin or leftover curling ribbon, the parts from a broken watch, keys and candy-wrappers and bits of metallic thread–these have no need of monetary weight, if they can spur the heart to visit places it’s not gone before.

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The value of shiny and golden things is not always intrinsic but arises from what can be imagined about them, dreamed about them, hoped . . .