Wonder by Subhadra Jayaraman

“I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, from me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world”

Every time I hear Louis Armstrong’s deep throated jazz tunes, I can’t help but smile. Such simple words, yet so fantastic an emotion. The colors of a rainbow, the naughty winks of fireflies, the smear of a gazillion stars on a jet-black sky, the coordinated flight of starlings, and the ragged peaks of mountains. And those are not the only wonders – there is the ginormous Golden Gate Bridge, the intricate Akshardham, and the hidden marvel of Machu Picchu. But I’m not here to list wonders.

Creaky noise, blurry images, fast forward. Welcome to today. Behold the Age of Indoors and its wonders. The faux leather couch with an assortment of fleece throws fluffier than a bunny rabbit, the study with more mahogany that the Amazon rainforests, the TV with 3D 4K HD display that we might soon be able to walk right into. You say waterfalls are wonderful? Well so are documentaries about them! Now who is to say which is better – spending 3 days to see one waterfall, breathing in fresh air and getting playfully sprayed with ice cold water, or 3 hours touring all the waterfalls in the world on HD while enveloped in fleece with a mug of hot chocolate?

‘Wonder’ is a loaded word, filled with meaning, and yet it can so effortlessly convey the simplest of feelings. There’s wonder everywhere, and sometimes we don’t even have to look for it. It is only polluted and morphed by human judgment. Sometimes a difficult hike that ends in an elaborate vista is wonderful, and sometimes just taking your shoes off after a long day’s work is just as wonderful. Some can go to Japan in the Spring to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, some have to make do with watching videos of them, and yet some others will just have to imagine what they look like from the stories they hear. Does it make the cherry blossoms any less wonderful? I do not buy into the condescending manner in which people tend to boast that they have been there, done that, bought the T shirt, burnt it, and scattered the ashes from a chopper. As if the experience became somehow lesser, or they themselves are far bigger than the experience, because they have already done it while the other eager onlookers are yet to.

“Hey! You want to go on a weekend camping trip?”
“Nah! After the month-long camping in Patagonia, everything else seems too boring”
“Okay. Well, I would offer you some coffee, but you probably won’t like it after your visit to Columbia.”  

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is quite true, but beauty is also everywhere and must not be left to the mercy of the untrained, snobby eyes of human beholders in the first place. Instead of judging wonders and ranking them in order of their wonderfulness, perhaps we need to take a peek within ourselves and think about why we find the need to wonder shame.

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