Why am I Wonder?
I am Wonder because when I reached a point in my life where I had to choose between the safety of having answers or the integrity of asking questions, I choose the question. Every time.
It’s something we’re all born with, but that most of us forget growing up. We’re taught that the world is concrete. That consistency is key. To distrust change.
But we were all kids once, annoying every grownup within earshot with the one innocent, incessant question: Why? When children ask why, they don’t ask because they’re looking to find answers. They’re not trying to build solid walls and definitions around their worlds. They ask for the joy of asking. The question is always there, until we stifle it.
Like most kids, I asked the Why question. Like most kids, I was told to stop asking Why. And like most kids, I did. For a while.
Until I was 22 years old and the removal of one piece from my delicately crafted adult life brought the entire thing down. Every construct that I thought had been so secure — my living space, my relationships, my work, my health and my once-unshakable faith — crumbled. And it all fell in the time it took for the cherry trees in Seattle to surrender their snowy petals to summer: an instant. All my answers, which I had spent years collecting, were no longer valid.
I was faced with a choice.
On the one hand, I could cling fiercely to what I thought I knew, squeezing my eyes shut against any evidence to the contrary.
Or, I could open my eyes. I could keep them open. I could stare at what terrified me and feel my heart thumping in my chest and taste the tang of fear in my mouth and not blink or turn away. And I could admit that nothing, nothing, is certain. Having solid answers to life’s questions paves a platform for ignorance and obstinance and a refusal to change with the seasons of our souls.
So I let go. I kept my eyes open. I felt every ounce of pain and regret and betrayal and rage (there was so much rage) and apathy and recklessness and looming, tempting suicide. I looked at it without flinching.
And with came a compassion and a ferocity I didn’t know I could possess. There’s an overwhelming empathy I feel for myself and the world around me. It challenges me — but every day that I’m alive, I feel more confident and safe in my own skin and soul.
If there’s one gift I can give the world with my art, it’s the permission to ask questions. To challenge everything we think we know. To dream and stare with wide eyes as though we’re finally taking in the full color spectrum after a lifetime of winter greys. To wonder.(Wonder will perform on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. at the Avid Reader in Davis, CA, along with writers Debra DeAngelo, David Lacy and Karen Lynch as part of the “Shades of Blue — Writers on Depression, Suicide and Feeling Blue” book reading and signing. To find out more about Wonder, visit http://www.iamwonder.net. To find out about her Kickstarter campaign to fund her winter tour, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wonder/wonderwintertour-the-kickstartour .)