One of the cool things about kids is that they see magic in everything. Because it’s all new, it’s all exciting, so even the most mundane observation can be a revelation. A rainbow isn’t just a rainbow; it’s a mystery with potential for leprechauns and riches.
However, after seeing the same thing a few times, it becomes normal; everyday things are revealed as everyday things. A rainbow is just reflected light gone wrong (unless it’s double, in which case, whoooaaa oh my god).
This is why old people no longer get joy out of the world.
Except that’s not true. Rapid progress in technology puts a wrinkle in the ability to experience magic in modern mundane life. Consider this: a kid born in the 90s has never known a world without the internet. The ability to draw on something close to the entirely of human knowledge using a pocket-sized device, to anyone under 20, that’s just the way you figure something out.
Whereas at 30, I remember when figuring out a single unknown fact involved a trip to the library, looking through a card catalogue, carrying a stack of books to a table, and skimming through them until you stumble across what you’re looking for. So to me? Being able to reach in my pocket, type half a misspelled search term vaguely related to what I’m looking for, then instantly get an answer? That’s magic. All the way.
Old people, born before the turn in the curve of the exponential rise in technological complexity, have experienced both sides of it. We can always see the way things are in the context of how things used to be, and re-experience the magic in them. We can gawk at a new iPhone the same way a baby gawks at a toy she has never ever seen before.
Of course, I think a key to happiness is to find this joy in everything, regardless of whether it’s because you’re young enough to be seeing it for the first time, because you’re old enough to remember its predecesor, or because you appreciate the awesomeness of life’s riches both natural and man-made.