Tape, that is.
How could something as simple as a piece of clear scotch tape be used to inspire awe and wonder?
The answer to that, I’ve learned, is limited to a person’s imagination and determination.
In my Kindergarten classroom Daniel was a painfully timid and yet incredibly artistic boy. While he couldn’t bring himself to play with his classmates during recess, he happily talked any teacher’s ear off about his art supplies and works of art, which were, in his words, mostly abstract. When we did any sort of art project in class, he was the most diligent and patient worker, always putting in a unique and thoughtful addition, distinguishing his project from others. As introverted and quiet as Daniel was, he was nevertheless nothing short of determined when it came to making art.
One such art project involved spiral shapes. The majority of the class had already finished quickly coloring in their spirals, but Daniel was two days behind, having taken his time in meticulously dividing his into precise units. After coloring in several spaces, he approached me, stumped for ideas, hitting his first major “artist’s block.”
“I’m not sure what to do next,” he whispered to me, as the other children read quietly during their rest time.
“Why don’t you look at some of the books we have on spirals for some ideas?” and I pointed out the plethora of colorful and bright books on a nearby bookshelf.
Within minutes he found a page of beautiful spiral shaped seashells that were printed to look glossy and shiny and said to me, “I want to make my spiral gold and shiny.” I’m embarrassed to say that my response was quite dismissive. I told him we were using markers and they weren’t sparkly, so it’d be hard to do, not to mention we didn’t have the color gold. He then excitedly shared that he had metallic markers at home he could use. However, I was dismissive once again and told him that he had to leave the project at school and finish it the same day in order to hang it for Grandparent’s Day. As he frowned at me I told him to choose a different color or think of another way to decorate the spiral.
I returned to my tasks at hand and out of the corner of my eye saw Daniel quietly moving around the room. He found a piece of yellow scrap paper from our recycled paper pile, a yellow crayon, a yellow marker, and began to color in a
rectangular strip with the two different media. He held it up to me proudly and exclaimed, “I made gold!” But he didn’t stop there. Completely of his own accord and with all of the amazing originality he had shown since the beginning of the year, he found the scotch tape and placed it over his gold rectangle. Before I knew it, he came over to me, in his quiet yet proud of himself way, and showed me a strip of shiny gold. He taped it onto his spiral and was so happy with his work, having found a way to accomplish his goal when he was told it wasn’t possible.
In that moment I was struck with not only wonder, but I was also humbled and inspired. As the teacher, and therefore adult, it was my responsibility to guide and encourage Daniel to become resourceful, to think outside of the box. And yet it was this six-year-old boy who taught me that in the ordinary, such as that piece of scotch tape, we can find the extraordinary.
In the eyes of children, all of their experiences and the simple things around them are filled with wonder and awe. Jumping into a puddle on the street, a cardboard box, a picture book. As we age and those new experiences grow old and things become mundane, we require something grandiose or beyond imaginable to once again feel the sense of joy and awe that once upon a time easily and frequently filled us from head to toe. We require something as impressive as Michaelangelo’s David or hiking the Grand Canyon to even begin to feel those goose bumps of wonder prickle our skin. Unfortunately, even after seeing such marvelous works of art or witnessing the power of nature, when we return to our daily lives and our everyday environment, it becomes more and more difficult to be impressed with our surroundings and experiences.
However, the desensitization that we grow accustomed to as we grow older does not have to continue. It was through Daniel’s inspired victory and imagination that I was reminded if we open our own eyes and truly see the beauty that surrounds us, those moments of wonder do not have to be limited to rare occasions. Instead, they can become daily occurrences, and even something as simple as scotch tape can lead to an experience of awe.