Making new things familiar

I can’t get over how true this is.

One of the things I decided to do when my children were small is try to see things from their perspective. Everything is new to children, everything is full of wonder. I’d forgotten how to see the world’s wonders; I’d forgotten how to see its magic.

I’d become like the grown-ups in The Polar Express: I could no longer hear the sweet music of the jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh.

After I made this decision to see the world through a child’s eyes, I could once again see the magic present everywhere. I could see the wonders in each day. I could hear the sweet music of that bell.

But now that my children are a little bit older, and now that I’ve been a little more hardened by the world, I find myself once more struggling to see the magic, to hear the bell. I struggle to find the joy that used to attend this time of year.

And then I stumbled across this TED talk by Rory Sutherland entitled “Life Lessons from an Ad Man.” While this particular talk is more related to marketing than it is to, say, The Polar Express, there are some amazing takeaways about life buried within it; key among them is the quotation—itself a new take on a quote by Samuel Johnson—that opens this post. But that wasn’t the only bit of wisdom I took from this speech; the other is that all value is perceived. In other words, many of the things we think have some sort of value really don’t, in the long run. In thirty years, is it really going to matter that you wore the coolest jeans on the block? Or is it going to matter that you took the time to read to your kids every night so they might learn more about the world around them?

I’m betting the latter will prove more valuable in the long run.

All value is perceived value. We need to value what we already have, instead of wondering what else is out there, what we might be missing out on. Because in the end, it’s like G.K. Chesterton said:

Magic and wonder are everywhere; just ask any child, and they’ll tell you. Just think how much more wonderful this world could be if we saw things the way they do.

(c) 2019. All rights reserved.


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