A group of us gathered at the kitchen table this morning, on the first day of the year (and a new decade all together), eating fruit salad, donuts, quiche and sausage. We made our way around the table to discuss what our plans are for the coming year. My dad led the conversation, asking us to share our goals. There were professional resolutions, health and exercise plans, travel dreams, personal improvement, culinary courses, business ideas, educational goals, and an overall consensus that we needed more self-care.
I’m grateful for these kitchen table moments — time to reflect and share with the people I love most — and it’s empowering to lift each other up for a year ahead.
The kitchen table represents wonder to me because of its place of possibility. There are tears, laughs, hugs, inside jokes, good food to be shared. The kitchen table makes me feel like the world is a safe place, as long as we are sitting around with family. The kitchen table is a place to begin at, and return to. I guess it only makes sense to begin Wonder Year at the kitchen table, telling people why my phrase this year is, “level up.” I plan to level up in all areas of my life. If life is a game, I’m pushing myself to level three.
My dad, who retired a year ago, has since gone back to culinary school. Thirty-something years ago he ran a small catering company with his sister, and now he’s back to doing what he loves. He told me, “Cooks cook. And writers write.”
So here I am, writing about wonder — what it is, why it’s captivating, how to have more of it — in a leap year, 2020.
For the last night of 2019, I watched the sun set in Pacific Beach, in San Diego, CA. It was the last sunset of a wild decade. A decade that I found love, got married, had a kid, moved a bunch, graduated twice, and began a PhD program. I felt a sense of wonder as the sky turned to marbled cream-pink, at the possibilities ahead for all of us.
And today, on the first day of 2020, I spent it at the zoo with my sisters, Danika and Sydney, my mom, Kim, my brother, Gavin, husband, Nick, and son, Bennett. It’s easy to find wonder in a place like the San Diego Zoo, but the moment that stopped me was watching my youngest sister, Sydney, carry my son on her shoulders in awe of the birds in the aviary. There was a flock going buck wild — talking and singing and puffing their bright orange feathers in the bird cage. “It was like walking into a bird orgy,” someone said.
Maybe that’s what wonder is: something that makes you stop. Something that has you laugh and think about how wild and lucky and random this whole experience in life is.
I have a few hypotheses for wonder, but for today, I’ll leave you with the moment that first gave me wonder: the kitchen table.
And the zoo…
Tell me — how did you spend your first day of the new decade?