There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight, to me did seem
Appareled in celestial light, the glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
Turn wheresoe’er I may, by night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”
I’m on a bit of a poetry kick these days, reading and reading and now it is time to comment. Wordsworth remembers the world as “appareled in celestial light”, yet he no longer sees the wonder in the world. In his memory, things are shiny, beautiful, and magic. So many things from childhood are cloaked in the magic of memory, gilded and sparkling. We are so quick to assume that nothing is the same as it was when we were kids. I’ve been known to say things like; “watermelon is never as cold or as sweet as when we were kids”, and sadly, I think I actually believed it. I don’t think it was ever true, I think it is only that we are moving so much more quickly that everything looks different, smells different, tastes different, feels different, when experienced at such a high rate of speed.
I’m learning to slow down and recently I’ve rediscovered my own childlike wonder. Just my little one acre yard is home to moles, lizards, snakes, snails, and gazillions of birds: lovely little sparrows, cardinals, pairs of dove, Mockingbirds, Blue Jays, and frequently a young hawk and a Red-Headed Woodpecker. Just stopping long enough to watch them or listen to them is a rare gift that only I can give myself.
It seems that so many people I know are stressed and depressed—I’ve been trying to convince them to slow down, to leave work at work, to give themselves the gift of time and quiet and family. It only takes the stopping of action, a deep breath, and a refocusing of the eyes to see the beautiful and amazing details that we have stopped noticing.
Wordsworth was somewhat right, our childhood memories are gilded in moonlight and sparkle like stars, but he was wrong in assuming that the “celestial light” was gone. We just don’t slow down enough to see it, but it is still there. The frosty pattern on a golden, red leaf on a cold morning, that lovely sparkle-trail the snails leave on the sidewalk marking their nocturnal journey, the pattern on a butterfly’s wing…it is still all there, all gilded in starlight.
Children barely see it because they “plug in” so early. Adults don’t see it because they are so wrapped up in their urgent cell phone calls, multi-tasking, and constant movement. It saddens me to think that no one sees what I can see. I try to convince folks to turn it all off, to slow down and take a look, and I am sure that they could see the sparkle in the world if only they would look.
There truly is magic everywhere.