We take it to mean good, excellent, fantastic. Someone says that they’ve “had a wonderful day,” and we take it to mean that they had an incredible, happy, encouraging day in which their plans were accomplished and their lives were improved.
But break it down.
Wonderful. Wonder/ful… wonder… full… full of wonder. So, when I have had a wonderful day, it really ought to mean that I have had a day in which I have experienced much wonder. A wonderful day is a day in which something amazing has caught my eye, and I have stopped in my tracks just to stare at it in absolute awe.
Wonder is seeing…
A huge flock of birds, only black specks from a distance, performing skilled maneuvers through the air, into the trees, onto the power lines, and back again, all in unison.
The color green.
A freckled child’s impish grin.
A cloudy night sky with only one visible star, breathed upon by a chilly evening wind.
A Japanese magnolia tree absolutely bursting with huge pink flowers.
A young man standing tiptoe on a sidewalk, painting swirling designs on the side of an old brick carwash.
But to be in awe of something isn’t the only meaning of “wonder.” “Wonder” is also a verb. “To wonder” is to consider, ponder, and think through something. It is to speculate, to be curious, and even, in some cases, to doubt.
Suddenly, a wonderful day becomes a day full of wondering.
A wonderful day is also full of…
Looking the homeless man on the streetcorner in the eye, holding his gaze, and acutely feeling his pain.
Working a double shift at work, feeling like you’re caught in a vortex where there is no world outside of those yellow walls and fry-oil-smells, and realizing that you will walk out those doors at the end of the day with your heart and soul alive and intact.
Reconciling yourself to the fact that, though your heart may deeply ache and do its best to hold on, it is finally time to let go of the someone or something that you have been carrying for too long.
Wonder is doubt. Wonder is awe. A wonderful day is bursting with both.
Wonder is staring at the computer screen late at night, to the backdrop of a huge pastel world map lit by a glowing desk lamp. The house is quiet. A mass of school assignments loom ahead. A glass emptied of chocolate milk– fuel for said assignments– sits beside the lamp. I look away from the glowing screen, toward the map, seeking to find a world outside of my obligations. The lamplight refracts through the facets of the milk-stained glass. And I wonder… perhaps the world would look different through the bottom of a milk glass.
I raise the glass, and peer through it. It isn’t a particularly profound view. It doesn’t hold some immediate epiphany or significance. It’s just interesting. I’d never seen things that way before. In its own strange way, it is beautiful. It fills me with wonder– wonder that light can look so interesting and amazing when I try to look at life and the world from a different perspective than before. It was wonder-full. Wonderful.
The world looks absolutely wonderful through the bottom of a milk glass.