JN46: On Star Trek and the profundity of childlike wonderment

May 4, 2009

Dear everyone,

A bunch of important funders are coming to visit today for a site visit, to determine if they want to invest 40K a year for a few years in our after-school program. Even as you read this, I’m probably curled up behind the filing cabinet, in the fetal position, shaking and trying to think of a happy place, which, right now, is a toss-up between Hawaii and the awesome new Star Trek movie.

Now, you are probably thinking, “He is a Trekkie! Ew.” I’m not. Do I look like an obese, 45-year-old unmarried man to you? I’m actually a pretty terrible nerd, for three reasons. First, I have not even finished the second book of Lord of the Rings. Third, I suck at math, so that just makes me both a terrible nerd and a horrible Asian. (Uh, I take that back. Jokes like that will cost the Senate election later. Sorry, fellow Asians, please put down your ninja swords).

But Star Trek has always held a fascination, mainly because I like to think about what sort of things humans will discover or invent in the future. It is hard to fathom, even now, that the complete work of Shakespeare can easily fit on a flash drive and be carried on your keychain. Or that you can talk to people across the world in real time on your laptop while sipping coffee at a cafe. Star Trek is great because it shows us what the world could be like in the future, an optimistic look at Mankind’s potential.

But I’m even more excited about being excited. It is rare that I get this excited, and really kind of sad if you think about it. Today for the lunch four staff and I went to a park, where there was a wading pool. One of the staff was telling me how excited her little nephews would get to be in the wading pool, which is really just 2 inches of water and some sprinklers. They would want to go every day, and each time would be just as eager to splash in the water.

When is the last time any of us get that excited about something? Why is that? Is all the knowledge we gain about the world as we get older adequate compensation for all the wonder that we lose? I get excited when I find five bucks in my jeans while doing laundry, or when a new episode of Chuck comes out on Monday. But it’s never the same as the excitement I got when we first came to the US, and I found out we could make our own ice in the freezer. (People didn’t have refrigerators in Vietnam)

Waiting in line for three hours to get in the theater, that will be part of the excitement. Seeing on the screen a great vision of our future and what it could be, that will be part of the excitement. I know it’s fleeting, but I’ll take what I can, and take comfort in my ability to rationalize that as a kid, I would not fully appreciate all the significance the world has to offer.

Write back and tell me what still excites you, what you still anticipate with childlike wonder. And if anyone needs me, I’ll be at the wading pool, splashing water into kids’ eyes. If I can’t have my childhood and childlike sense of wonder back, maybe it’ll help if I deprive others of theirs.


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