What Happened to Wonder?

What the inside of a Smart Water bottle can teach us

This originally appeared as a postscript to my weekly newsletter. Sign up here!

Have you ever noticed the inside label of a Smart Water bottle? If you look closely, there’s a tiny goldfish, an aquatic critter that my three year old loves to point out.

Her discovery reminds me of the opening pages of The Little Prince, in which the protagonist describes his frustration with adults. He makes his first drawing and asks the “grown-ups” if they were scared of his masterpiece. Their response: “Why be scared of a hat?”

Wrong, it was a boa constrictor eating an elephant:

The grown-ups encouraged the little prince to abandon his “drawings of boa constrictors and apply himself to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar.” That’s when he abandoned, “at the age of six, a magnificent career as an artist” and concluded:

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again.”

Back to the Smart Water. Soriya’s too young to get frustrated with this grown-up’s continued oversight of the goldfish. For now. This got me thinking about Wonder. I can’t remember the last time I wondered and asked an open-ended question. Studies show that the number of “questions asked” plummets as children leave adolescence, imagine the case for a 38 year old! Too often my questions are logistical, logical, and reactive. And they lack wonder.

Last week, Soriya tugged at me and told me to look up quickly. The clouds were moving through the blue sky at a feverish pace (like the time-lapse at the beginning of Billions). I couldn’t remember the last time I saw something that cool — a droplet of wonder.


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