The things that charm and fascinate you when you’re very young. As a young lad, I used to travel with my mother to visit an aunt and uncle in Seattle. My uncle was a Boeing engineer and they had a bigger house than ours, with stuff that we didn’t have. They had an intercom, for instance, which I thought was so cool. And where we lived in a brownstone walk-up in the city, they were in the suburbs and had a garage-which had an automatic door opener. As a little boy I found that almost magical. Whenever we pulled up to the garage I loved to take the remote out of the glove compartment and press the button to open the door. This was my first experience with automatic garage doors.
Of course there was nothing magical about it. Had I asked, my uncle would have told me that the remote had a radio transmitter, and the door had a receiver. The signal from the remote triggered the relay to start the door motor, and voila, the door opened. All I really knew was that it was something we didn’t have at home and it was fun.
I had the advantage of being a very smart little boy with an exceptionally strong imagination of my own and the sense of wonder that is common to all children. While I always loved science, at that age I was also interested in magical ideas, and could tell the difference between science and magic. So automatic garage doors quickly went from seeming magical to just being fun. The sense of wonder is not difficult to nurture in a child; it comes naturally to the very young. When you’re little, you’re just discovering the world. Everything is new, which breeds curiosity and a love of finding things out. Not understanding yet why things are the way they are, a child is free to engage with “pure experience.” It’s only as we grow older that we learn to judge, to be closed off, to detach. The most fortunate adults-and I’m pleased to say I’m also one of these-grow up without losing their wonder. I still have that curiosity and wonderment about the world and the universe around me (though not about automatic garage doors any more). I hope you do too. If you don’t help may be as near as the nearest child.