As fun as it is to wonder about big things like UFOs, the boundary of life, music and cool science, it’s even more fun to keep an attitude of wonder for all the little things we encounter in a day. So, to wrap up August’s 31 Days of Wonder, that’s what I did yesterday. I kept a little running journal. Here’s some of what I wrote. What would you write in yours?
- Why do we care whether our presidents are “likeable”? You don’t want someone who will alienate the world, but as long as he’s a decent enough guy, isn’t competence much more important?
- Why do people choose unusual hair styles? What’s the story of that young man in the grocery store and his unique, up-swept ‘do? How about the guy at work who has a long, scraggly chin-beard but an otherwise-shaved head?
- My fancy keyboard gives me a choice of LED colors. Why do I like purple much more than yellow, green or white?
- I’m fortunate to have an interesting job, but what percent of people are bored for 8 hours every day, for 40 years? How depressing that would be!
- Why are some people particularly susceptible to conspiracy theories?
- Why do some people like flashy, red cars and others like autos of neutral color?
- Although each species of insect buzzing around the meadow looks like it’s doing the same exact thing, each one is specialized to its own niche. Amazing!
- Why do we wear all these clothes even when it’s 90 degrees outside? People have so many strange conventions!
- What is the story of that attractive, cheerful woman with two preteens in tow isn’t who isn’t wearing a wedding ring? Did her husband die in an accident? In war? Did they divorce? Why? Or maybe she was never married?
- Are hippopotamuses attracted to each other by sight? It’s hard to believe they are. On the other hand, we’re even funnier-looking than they are when you stop to think about it. I mean, what other animal has all this hair on top of its head, but is bald almost everywhere else? Dr. Seuss couldn’t have invented a more bizarre creature!
- What about our close relatives, the chimpanzees? Is their visual estimation of each other limited to how big they are, or do they have an ideal of beauty?
- My cashier in the grocery store is new and she’s totally unreadable. Is she depressed? Just preoccupied? What surprising life story does she have that nobody would ever guess?
- How long will it be until the technology I’m learning at work will be obsolete?
- If we are being visited by space aliens, they must have computers. How similar are their programming languages to ours? Have they discovered an entirely different set of software-design principles or is good design literally universal?
- Why do people spend hours and hours making “floats” for Labor Day parades? Why are they called “floats”?
- How many ways do humans socialize that no other species does? Making floats together is one. Then there’s the parade itself; being in the club that’s marching in the parade; convening legislatures to declare holidays on which parades take place; having get-out-the-vote drives; …the list goes on forever.
…as does the wonder, if you’re curious enough to look for it.