Looking past practicality

When I was a child, I would wake up each and every morning and scream “It’s a beautiful morning,” at the top of my lungs. I would say this no matter what, whether it was pouring down rain or 80 degrees and sunny. I guess childhood includes some sort of optimism, because now when I wake up, I certainly am not thinking that it’s a beautiful morning, especially at this time of year.

But maybe I should be. I think that as we grow out of childhood, we lose a sort of innocence and optimistic nature in believing that everything is beautiful. The world around us doesn’t change at all; what changes is the way we view it. When we are children, everything is magical. As we grow old, we learn how the world really works, and nothing amazes us anymore. Instead of looking at the world in wonderment, we start to look at everything based on its practicality.

There’s an essay by Mark Twain titled “Two Ways of Looking at a River” that describes this perfectly. In it, Twain describes the river twice. Once, he is young and naïve, and he depicts all the things of beauty, like the sunset and the way the water moves. But he describes it another time, after he has worked on the river and learned everything about it. This time, all he sees is the practicality of everything: what the sky and the movements of the water mean. For Twain, all the beauty and romance were lost as he learned the ways of the river.

I don’t know if all of this is just growing up, or if it’s something that we just need to remember as we get older, but I’d like to lean towards the latter. Most of what I remember from when I was a kid is never wanting to grow up. It seemed like everyone around me just wanted to get older and all I wanted was to stay a child forever. Maybe I can. If we all look past the usefulness of everything and just see the beauty, maybe we can be optimistic enough to wake up every morning to a beautiful day, no matter the circumstances.