The Wonder of the Ordinary


I had to share Julian Hoffman’s post The Wonder of Ordinary Places, for the stunning photography and the beautiful post that accompanied it, including this excerpt:

When it comes to wonder and the natural world, children are the true specialists. They are particularly open to that state of astonishment that we associate with awe. A child, in the most common of landscapes, is capable, through a combination of intense perception and imagination, of discovering an entire world in the smallest fragment of nature. It might be among wildflowers and weeds at the edge of a scrubby field where an iridescent emerald beetle or the bright flight of a butterfly can hold a child’s attention for several minutes. It could be along a river bank where a child excitedly follows an oak leaf as it travels downstream. It might simply be the prints of an animal, perfectly preserved by snow, that captures a child’s imagination.

What is so remarkable about children’s perception, even more so than its intensity, is that it is characterised by an equality of interest. Everything a child encounters in nature, no matter how small, offers possibility and is therefore equally fascinating. Children make little distinction between major and minor motifs. A feather found on the beach is as wondrous as the creature it belonged to.

Yeah, I like that.

[note: the photo is of my two youngest daughters and my nephew looking for frogs in the pond last summer]

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Inspirational quotations, photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Wonder of the Ordinary

  1. Phil says:

    Great find. I can relate to the message so very much.

    Several years ago, when we were in the Conga-line of winter snowstorms besieging my area of the country, I remember a particular weekend when my niece and her family had come down from New England to stay at our home for a few days in February before leaving on their annual trip to Florida. A huge snow storm had blown in and I remember waking up that morning, staring outside the kitchen slider quite agitated at the weather.

    Then my grand-niece came down from the bedroom and into the kitchen. She was literally jumping up and down delighting at the snow. She ran up to me full of glee and all excited about going out to play in the snow. It was a transformational moment for me. We sat down on the floor next to the slider and just watched the snow fall together. No words were spoken, we just watched for a while. I had forgotten how magical it is to see through the eyes of a child, and as my own inner child awakened, my mood immediately transformed; I was no longer irritated at the snow. In fact, I couldn’t wait to go outside and play.

    Nice picture of your two daughters and nephew. They look like they were having a blast!

  2. Phil,

    What a terrific story about the power of changing one’s perspective. My grandfather, though he was a pretty shrewd probate lawyer, always managed to keep a light heart and a humorous perspective on things when I was around. I think that it is awesome to keep that spirit of joy throughout one’s life.

    For me, there has always been a small part of me that has refused to grow up and I prefer to take on a more open, curious perspective. That’s not to say some troublesome adult pressures don’t try to crowd in and limit my scope.

    Yeah, the kids were having a blast! And so was I. There were some great big bullfrogs in that pond.

  3. Mike says:

    Thank you Casey for sharing this truly great photograph – it embodies so much of what it means to be human: friendship that crosses genders, the nostalgia for our lost naivety and youth, the impending pendulum of time. Ok, not all of this I see in the picture, but the emotions are there 🙂

    Reminds me the recent thread in Quora about the iconic images of love:

  4. Mike –

    Thanks so much for sharing the link and commenting on my photo. What a beautiful collection of pictures. I’ve seen many of them, including the two skeletons in an eternal embrace, but there are some I haven’t seen and it’s wonderful to see them all highlighted.

    And what any one of us gleans from a picture, I think can be open to personal interpretation, but there are some qualities that can be agreed upon. And yes, I DO agree with you.

    I try to capture spontaneous moments like this with my daughters when they aren’t looking. Partly out of necessity…they don’t like standing still long enough for them to be photographed with smiles pasted on…and partly because it’s just fascinating to watch kids do their thing without adult interference sometimes.

    The photo above is one of my all-time favorites.

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