12 Comments

I've had the sizzling meteor experience. It was midafternoon, in little Oberlin where I grew up, I was on College Street near the Apollo Theatre. Something sizzled across the sky and then exploded. An article in the paper the next day responded to the "What was that?" question that many had.

And the sky serving wonder instead of startle? That too. One of my best nights in college was the one, in the middle of a useless astronomy course, where the grad assistant took us up to the telescope at the top of Columbia's Pupin Hall. He dialed the scope into Saturn, using mysterious coordinates provided by a well-used manual, and we looked. My response - others may have laughed at it: "It's true. It really does have rings." As we made ourselves, shivering, down the catwalk, I took something with me on the descent. The difference between knowing by report, and really knowing - the wonder of it.

Is it aging that reduces wonder, or just the age? Modernism's self-avowed objective is to disenchant. It's forever failing, but succeeds too well. Its stance opens you to worlds, but can dull you to them. About twenty years ago, I got involved in a Zen group and practiced for several years. I couldn't have told you why, although the title of their experience for newbies, "An Introduction to your True Self," was irresistible. But what practice did for me was to restore a bit of the immediacy of response I had displayed on a New York City rooftop on a winter night. The moon surprises you. The bluejay sings in your heart.

One still-dark morning I was returning home from meditation. Something was fragrant as I tramped the sidewalk. The sky was star-filled. I was sleepy, but enough awake to catch a meteor briefly pointing the way. Ah! So the morning star was a shooting star...

It was time for coffee.

Expand full comment
Sep 19, 2023Liked by Damir Marusic

Thank you. Much of what you wrote resonates with me. At 73, I am struggling with maintaining a sense of engagement on many levels…and creating is helping (including photography)….socially, not so effective. I’m solitary, as is my husband…and our few friends are far away or dead.. so, I try to savor every sunrise.

Expand full comment

Beautiful and really thought provoking piece. It especially resonates with me as I'm feeling v.tired of life and the world around me currently.

Expand full comment
Sep 20, 2023Liked by Damir Marusic

Beautiful

Expand full comment

Wish I still had a toddler's sense of wonder! What's a Mystery? is a poem I wrote when my daughters were little: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/whats-a-mystery

Expand full comment

Your observations may generate responses mostly from those of us who have lived a long while. As an anesthesiologist I was blessed with the opportunity to see what happens to us as the decades roll by. Along with the diminution of pleasures you describe comes the lessening of pain. 20-somethings with a broken leg are in agony and you can't pour enough morphine into them to sooth their pain. You have to practically make them unconscious. 80 year olds with a broken hip are ofttimes unaware of their condition. As long as they hold still and don't move they have no pain. What happens? It seems that there is both a lessening of pleasure and of pain as time goes by. The young ones still have life's great work to complete and the mysteries and pleasures drive them on toward accomplishment. The elderly have completed their course and the loss of pleasure is well recognized though not readily accepted and often lamented. Most people do not realize that pain is blunted as well. Perhaps it is part of God's great plan to make passage into the afterlife an easier transition. One is still accompanied by his memories when he exits this world. Make them good ones.

Expand full comment
Oct 5, 2023Liked by Damir Marusic

I've thought about that idea of lost wonder as I get older (now 48). I met my wife in India. She was from Korea, me from San Francisco. We met the Himalayas, really, a wondrous place if there is one. We went back a few years later to try and relive that wonder. Nope! All I remember is my wife looking at me during a prolonged bus ride in 40°C heat and saying. "We're in hell." Anyway, I think what I would counter with here is language, and more specifically, learning a second (or a third) language. There is something about the process of learning to communicate in a new way that opens vistas, in one's mind and obviously out in the real world. I just got back from Guatemala for a Spanish immersion class. (I've been at Spanish informally for a few years now.) Being able to speak directly to people, in their own language, on their terms, creates bridges that -- to me at least -- are wondrous, because they carry you into new patterns of life, new modes of thinking and expressing that help shake off the jadedness. I listened to a middle-aged man explain to me how God saved his three sons during their crossing through Mexico to the US, how a mother left school because her own mom had to choose to pay for paper so that her daughter could do her homework or tortillas to feed the family. These are stories I never would have encountered without that language access, and even if I had heard them in English, it would not have been the same. So, my sense is, yes, being 48 is not the same as being 18, but wondrous stories abound, all the more so if you are able to experience them in their native tongue. And yes, that can be really wonderful.

Expand full comment
Sep 22, 2023Liked by Damir Marusic

Lovely post. And I believe you about the meteor. I swear I once heard one while driving, which does seem improbable but... 🤷‍♂️ It was vivid green, lasted barely half a second, and audibly fizzled. I was stunned!

Expand full comment
Sep 20, 2023Liked by Damir Marusic

Having recently completed The Decadent Society, I'm probably going to cite in all existential matters for a while. But everything you describe I think is brought on by a mature and deeply cynical comprehension of civilizational fabric. I don't fully know why these epiphanies happen exactly when they do, or what triggers and delineates them so sharply with the optimism and wonder of youth, but you're obviously correct about the healing power of nature. The complete escape into the world that's mechanics operate totally independent of our decadence.

Expand full comment