One of my goals as a father is to infect my children with childlike wonder.

Arthur Gordon is one of my role models when it comes to wonder. I read his incredible book, Wonder, on our fifteenth anniversary trip to Italy—making it all the more meaningful. In fact, we saw one of the natural wonders of the world: the blue grotto off the coast of Capri. That book awakened me to wonder like few others, but it was one chapter in particular that caught my fancy, The Night the Stars Fell.

As a small boy, Arthur Gordon’s family spent their summers at a seaside cottage. Late one night, after Arthur had fallen asleep, his father came into his room, picked him up out of bed, and carried him down to the beach. Then he told a half-asleep Arthur to look up into the night sky and watch. Just as his father said it, a shooting star streaked across the sky. Then another. And another. His father explained to him that on certain nights in August, the sky would put on a far greater fireworks display than any Fourth of July celebration.

Six decades later, it would still rank as one of the most magical moments of Arthur Gordon’s life! Reflecting on his father’s influence, Arthur Gordon said that his dad believed that a new experience was more important for a small boy than an unbroken night of sleep. 

“I had the usual quota of playthings,” said Arthur, “But these are forgotten now. What I remember is the night the stars fell, the day we rode in a caboose, the time we tried to skin the alligator, and the telegraph we made that really worked.”

What will your kids remember from their childhood?

It won’t be the things you purchased for them! And it probably won’t be the things you pre-planned as a parent. It will be the improvisational moments that can only be identified by a father’s sixth sense. It’s your job to create those moments, capture those moments. And if you do, your kids will remember them sixty years hence!

Arthur Gordon captured his father’s essence this way: “My Father had, to a marvelous degree, the gift of opening doors for his children, of leading them into areas of splendid newness.  This, surely, is the most valuable legacy we can pass on to the next generation: not money, not houses or heirlooms, but a capacity for wonder and gratitude, a sense of aliveness and joy.”

Our lives are not just measured in minutes. They are measured in the moments when wonder invades our ordinary reality.

Carpe wonder!

Excerpted from Play the Man published by Baker Books

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