Remona AlyThursday 14 December 2023 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2
A small wonder
If there’s one person who always keeps me on my toes, it’s my little tornado of a two year old niece.
She will gleefully tip entire boxes of toys upside down despite appeals on her mercy. She’ll give you side-eye if you dare try to spoon-feed her, and she has more personality than a lot of grown-ups I know.
My niece also has a propensity to find magic in the mundane, and beauty in the unsightly. She thinks slugs are the loveliest creatures in the world, telling my sister, “Watch out, mama, don’t squash it, it’s sooo cute!” And after seeing some rotting bark, she’ll exclaim, “Oh wow, it’s so beautiful!”
When I was little, whenever the skies turned grey, I’d rush outside to hear the symphony of raindrops fall on my umbrella. I’d marvel at the puddles of water left behind like love letters from the clouds.
Now when it rains, I run from it, instead of towards it. I no longer revel in the wonder it brought me as a child.
I’ve quietly gathered burdens over the years. Feeling hurt and abandoned by someone I thought I could trust; watching helplessly as family members suffer from illness; and getting tired of repeating the same prayers for love that don’t see an answer.
Growing up has been dwarfing my sense of awe. It now feels like only something spectacular can wow me, like some magnificent species on a nature programme, or being granted a miracle that makes my life feel whole.
But as my niece teaches me, I don’t need grand displays of beauty to make me think the world is beautiful. Just as she is wowed by a rotten piece of bark, she reminds me that wonder lies in many places.
Wonder is in the bloom of a rose, as well as its decay. It’s in the softness of youth and in the wrinkles of experience. It’s in a heart that feels the freshness of joy, as well as one that survives sorrow.
The Pakistani Muslim teacher and poet, Wasif Ali Wasif said, “The world is ancient, but it has not lost its newness.”
While cynicism can disillusion me, I don’t want to tire of wonder. I’ll strive to see it everywhere, just like my niece does, even if it is in a slimy garden slug.