‘What the hair oil?’ – My mother exclaimed this bizarre phrase whenever she was perplexed. Whatever it meant, it came from trying to fathom something outwith her experience. It expressed wonder.
Children have a wonderful dimension of wonder. Listen to teenagers and their ideas for world rank from the zany to the deeply sensible, sometimes in a few sentences. In younger adulthood, we still think actively about what we are encountering and how we should understand it. Then… then it seems to stop. We no longer ask those questions referred to by Kipling when he wrote:
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
So let’s ask why do we cease wondering?
Perhaps we get lazy or self-absorbed. More likely we find it easier to cope with an increasingly demanding lifestyle by drawing red lines and fixing conclusions. It is not that we reject learning. After all, the workplace is awash with accreditation courses, certification training and professional development programmes. It’s just that we have stopped wondering.
What’s to be done?
It is the very nature of human evolution that we have been born to explore, to think deeply and to wonder. So we need to reconnect with that desire to see afresh and know more intimately. We need to be curious again.
Well, that takes time and effort. It takes an open mind. Yet it will pay dividends as wondering lies at the root of genuine recreation. It is the foundation of finding purpose for ourselves in the greater scheme of things. It offers fulfilment in God’s wonderful universe; a space full of wonder. Since with wonder, we are living as we should rather than existing without ever asking – what the hair oil?