Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 4: Wonder

Wisdom of MerlinReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.

For more inspiration visit or Like:

To read about the other Magical Words, please visit these posts:

First Magical Word: Gratitude

Second Magical Word: Courage

Third Magical Word: Knowledge

Fifth Magical Word: Belief

Sixth Magical Word: Generosity

Seventh Magical Word: Hope

The Most Magical Word of All: Love

Fourth Magical Word:


Excerpt from The Wisdom of Merlin:

Too often, alas, adults lose their sense of wonder… But I am glad to say they can all be found again.”

“If you set out on a mission seeking wonder, you won’t find it. Instead, take your shoes off, walk barefoot in the world… and allow it to happen.”

Quotes on Wonder:

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”  Socrates

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” Neil Armstrong

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and, in the contemplation of her beauties, to know of wonder and humility.” Rachel Carson

Man-Made Wonders That Make You “Wonder”:

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza

    Photo by  Nina Aldin Thune.

    Photo © Nina Aldin Thune

  • The Great Wall of China

    Photo © Severin Stalder

    Photo © Severin Stalder

  • The Roman Colosseum

    Photo © by Cynageorge

    Photo © by Cynageorge

Great People Who “Wondered”:

  • Albert Einstein

Now considered the greatest physicist of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein began his career by wondering how he could solve many of the inadequacies in science at the time. Through hard work — and decades of experiments — he developed his groundbreaking theory of relativity, which includes the now famous equation “E=mc2”. [1]

  • Mark Twain

Mark Twain often wondered how the infamous Halley’s Comet would shape his life. Born during the first sighting of the comet in 1835, he predicted that he would pass away 74 years later, during the next sighting. Twain once said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet… It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet.” As if in sync, Twain passed away the day after Halley’s Comet returned. [2]

  • Galileo Galilei

For decades Galileo stared up at the sky and wondered about the sun. Did it circle around us? Did we circle around the sun? After years of observations, he published his findings proving that the sun was indeed the center of the solar system, not the Earth. [3]

  • Confucius

The history and culture of Eastern Asia would not be the same without Confucius and his teachings. A great thinker and philosopher, he often wondered about the potential of human beings. His beliefs introduced a culture of peace, obedience, and mutual respect to over five million Chinese citizens. [4]

  • Jane Goodall

As a young girl in England, Jane wondered about what it would be like to live in Africa. She dreamed of exploring the land and meeting the wildlife, especially chimpanzees and other primates. That curiosity drove her to do what no one had done before: She studied the chimpanzees so closely that she realized that they could make tools, communicate in their basic language, and create a complex social community. Goodall dedicated her life to the chimpanzees, so much so that she inspired millions of people, young and old, to work hard to conserve the planet we share.  [5]

Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Wonder:

Wonder. The word conjures images of young faces gazing in “wide-eyed wonder” at the marvelous scene greeting them on a Christmas morning. Children are encouraged to dream, to view their surroundings through inquisitive eyes as they search for meaning in the world. Whether it was Mister Rogers encouraging me to make-believe, Sesame Street inviting me out to play on a “sunny day,” or Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow, I was inspired to allow my imagination to take flight and to approach the world with zest. Wonderment was golden.

As we travel along the road to adulthood, though, we are advised to discard this sensibility and cast it aside like a pair of worn out shoes. This trait we were told to embrace is now no longer serviceable. At least that’s what some would tell you. Wonder, they’d say, is a mark of naiveté. Once you know the logic, science, or reasoning behind something, events or objects don’t inspire awe or curiosity, they just are. It’s easy to fall into this kind of thinking. For instance, when a magician performs a magic trick, to an untrained eye, it’s just that — magic! But if he or another expert explains how the feat was accomplished, what was formerly magical now feels like an elaborate con. Presto, you’ve become demystified. Our ancestors looked at the night sky and saw stories populated by heroes, kings, queens, hunters, animals, and other living beings. I’d venture to say that many today look at the sky through a different lens. Informed by science, they feel no profound amazement because they think they understand what they see. They have stripped the stars of their mystery.

The acquisition of awareness and experience should not preclude one from dreaming. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. For if you greet the world with eyes that see only what is and not what might be, if you see only what is revealed, not what is hidden, if you take for granted the extraordinary beauty present in the ordinary or the everyday, you steal potential joy from your life. It’s this kind of numbing of the mind — nay, numbing of the heart — which we must oppose. We can live fuller, more meaningful lives if we silence the voices telling us that grown-ups should value reality over dreams, the physical over the spiritual, the mundane over the majestic. To me, there is nothing more heartbreaking than one whose “inner-child”, when he reaches maturity, stops looking for the wonder in life. If you’ve seen the film The Polar Express, you witnessed the frustration “Hero Boy” experiences as he grapples with doubt, and conversely, the elation he feels when he can finally hear the bell.

I entreat you: Keep believing. Maintain your sense of wonder. Never stop growing, but as you gain knowledge and experience, don’t lose the zeal that sparked your thirst, and take care that you don’t shed your innocence. Greet each new morning, each sunset, each moonrise, as if you’ve never seen it before. Look with more than just your eyes — stop and listen with your heart. When you do, you’ll be astonished at how many wonderful things transpire each day!

I’d like to thank T.A. Barron and Chelsey Saatkamp for inviting me to take part in this 7-week series. What a priceless journey it has been!

Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below!


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7 thoughts on “Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 4: Wonder

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