Adulthood is the only time we humans revel in the loss of something that defined us as children.
As children, we gaze at our world with wide open eyes at everything we see in our world. We think so seriously about going to the moon, maybe as a whole family, and wouldn't that be fun? We excitedly await Christmas, scan the heavens on Christmas Eve for a red nose and maybe some snow. Summer is barefoot time, an eternity long, full of that word we don't yet know but will later understand as opportunity. Potential. And maybe, sometimes we will call it magic.
It's hard to point out at what point the process of loss begins in us. It may come fast and harsh, not so much a process as a moment where we are changed. It may begin slowly, with little things here and there, always different for everyone. The kid who tells his group, in hushed tones, that he found all his presents in the closet before Christmas. Or it might be the day when, as you are showing off your wealth from the night before, gained for only the price of a tooth under your pillow, a classmate yells out "fairies aren't real." Yet we still argue, still hold on a little longer as these things steal bits and pieces of who we are, until one day it happens.
We let go of our wonder.
And we are only happy to let it drift away. It's a mark of being grownup, like wearing makeup or shaving for the first time.
And after being content to leave it alone and let it drift for awhile, we dive eagerly away from it, into darker waters.
We eagerly describe ourselves as cynical and jaded. We take on these world-wise titles while telling others how naive they are. And the world welcomes it. It was others who first told us to stop being naive, to stop being amazed and awed. We are forced by the pressure, so like a wave beating us into the sand, to accept that the faeries in the photographs aren't real, that it's just too warm for snow, that we will never stand on the moon.
And it makes us sad, so sad, that we must reminisce and laugh at our younger selves not for pleasure, but maybe in hopes of revisiting the wonder that we let drift away so long ago. We claim to hate hiking in the summer because of the bees, while at the same time staring at a photograph of a path that leads into a forest, and we long to follow.
And then there are more children, so like the way we were, so full of the joy at existence that it's contagious, and we marvel at how funny they are, knowing deep down we were like that. They grow, and we say, "heh, they're lucky they don't have work. Just wait...."
Yes. Wait. They will be like you one day, falsely jaded, lying about their cynicism to hide that maybe they miss the one thing they left behind when they crawled onto the shore and found themselves firmly rooted instead of floating.
There are times, always, for everyone, where something in the distance flickers, beckoning us, saying "Come here. I have something to show you" and we draw near to find that the wonder we thought we'd drowned, that we thought was gone forever, has followed us and never left.
It will never be what it was so long ago. It can't. We are different, and it has changed too.
And though we might not stand on the moon, or have snow in 50 degree weather, we can still gaze at the heavens, not seeking glowing red noses, but a vast universe of things we can't begin to imagine. We can revel in the sounds from a guitar amp. We get excited over a plot twist we never saw coming. We watch life push and struggle and be and we study it so much closer to know why it is so wondrous.
We are all geeks over something we hold dear. It's not an obsession or unhealthy or strange; it is hardwired in us. It is the sense of wonder that we let go, refined by the waters, following us onto the shore, tied by a rope so fine that we can ignore it, and calling to us when we find it again. It has grown up with us, become specifically tailored to us. It is us.
We are creatures of wonder, in a universe built for it, and in a time after time, when all the tears are wiped away from our eyes, we will know the greatest wonder of all.