Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner


Originally posted on September 2, 2015

A Negro spiritual song from the 19th century goes:
“Oh won’t you sit down?
Lord, I can’t sit down! (Repeat two more times)
I just got to Heav’n, gotta look around!”

It turns out that we have a bit of heaven right here for those who have eyes to see. Really, it’s not the eyes, it’s the attitude, the capacity for wonder. A capacity for “Wowsie-Woozy.”  There often are tons of stuff to wonder about. A sneeze. A yawn. Focusing your eye. Peeing. How does it work? Thousands of things. If you have eyes to see, or a great school, there can be tons of wonder. What if every day in class we had someone bring something in that was to him or her, really wonderful. The homework was to open your mind to what was worthy of a “wow!” It could be big or small. The assignment was to speak eloquently about why it was wonderful.

My daughter replied:

Hi! Yes, the wonder of it all!  I agree. Every “flutterby” (as she had remembered that I called them) and brilliant hummingbird zipping this way and that through all the flowers around her home. She wrote, “It’s an amazing world out there. We’ve been eating sweet watermelon, loving on Bodie (their dog) with his cute face, waking up leisurely on a non-rushing morning; having the energy to work out.  Getting to go out to eat yummy food, spicy soup and watching Zoe eat her delicious pesto pasta last night; walking on a cold night and then coming home and getting cozy inside; feeling the glory of the earth, sun soaking my body warm.

I replied: “Oh yum! You’ve got it! By George, I think you’ve got it! So what if you’re in as good a heaven as you’ll ever be, and you are working to help God be born even more? What if Bodie is secretly a little reincarnated monk, or monkey-monk, or puppy-monk—and his real name is spelled “B-o-dh-I”? And all the wonderful things you are doing to savor life. I know your husband treasures your capacity to appreciate like this.” Then I signed off: Hugs, Happypopala


My son then wrote:

“I know that Show and Tell is usually left behind in kindergarten, but your idea is so fun! I just love the idea of an assignment to find and share something ‘wonder-full.’ I think people need to warm up to the idea of wonder, going beyond the sense of taking everything for granted.

Here are just a few things that make me go “wow”:

  • How many molecules of water there are in 10 drops of water (about as many stars there are in the universe… around 16 x 10^21)
  • Why a joke can be so funny in one situation and so not-funny in another
  • That we can feel the difference between silk and flannel with our eyes closed
  • That our eyes/brain can be fooled so easily by simple optical illusions
  • We can be listening to two pieces of music at the same time and be able to pull them apart
  • The fastest computers today take about a femtosecond to do a calculation (put it in perspective: there are as many femtoseconds in 1 second as there are seconds in 31.7 million years)
  • Something I think is totally sane and logical, other intelligent people think is crazy.”

When we find a “wow,” I believe it is human nature to want to share it with others, but we rarely get a chance. Either the moment passes, or we’re concerned that others will think our “wow” is too obvious or not interesting enough. But the great thing about “wows” is that they’re virtually always cross-disciplinary, real-world, and able to be expanded into anything from a paragraph to a book.”

Adam again: So there’s a word in Yiddish, “Kvell.” It means swelling with pride. I kvell when my kids play with me this way.

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