Looking for a Land of Empathy and Wonder

by Kristi Campbell
Originally Published: 

I’d like to live in a land where my son Tucker is one of many, and the many each have a variety of differences. A land in which none of those differences are considered afflictions, special needs, disabilities, or developmental delays. In this land, people’s quirks and differences wouldn’t be noticed. They wouldn’t be important. Everybody’s uniqueness would be celebrated.

The only thing important in my imagined land is a person’s heart. His empathy. His ability to find wonder. To experience joy while blowing bubbles on a breezy spring day, rather than worrying about a deadline, a job, an overdue bill, or a disease.

A place where every resident is able to abandon her phone and follow her son on his quest to best imitate the flight pattern of an erratic butterfly. To experience wonder. Joy.

I’d like to live in a land where skin color is as notable as the color of a person’s socks. A place where couples who fall in love are automatically a family, regardless of the opinion their neighbors, or their governments hold.

Where a person’s actions towards others is noticed. Appreciated. A place where the cost of her handbag, or her shoes, is not.

I’d like to live in a world where I can take my son to the playground and the fact that he’s playing amazingly well with an unknown younger friend is what’s noticed rather than the fact that his new, younger friend is miles above him in language. In knowing how to play. In, well, everything.

I’d like for all of us to simply bask over the joy seen on two boy’s faces bonding over finding an abandoned ball.

I’d like for all of us to simply be.

Can you imagine?

I can.

I see that joy and wonder on my little boy’s face every single day. He sees magic.

He makes me want to get back to seeing the magic.

Because this land of mine would also allow me to see my son’s recent school photo and not analyze it. It would hold me in the warm arms of the belly-laugh moment my husband and I shared when we first saw it, and thought, “Oh my…he looks so mischievous! So grown up! So beautiful.”

Instead, I studied that photo late at night, alone, and wondered whether his school photo looks like autism. Whether my little boy’s beautiful eyes all squinted up as if he’s hiding something meant, instead, that he was at an “I need a break” point. That he may have been intimidated or overwhelmed and didn’t have the words to say so. That he may have been frightened.

I’d like to live in a land where empathy and wonder rule.

Where our differences don’t.

You know what the best part is? This land exists.

It exists right now. It exists in you. We, my friends, have the power to transform our worlds, our wanna-be lands, and our homes into places filled with empathy and wonder.

It starts with you. With me. With our children. It starts with how we choose to spend the next five minutes. The next hour. The next year. The next rest-of-our-lifetimes.

It starts tomorrow, when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, busy, and annoyed. Take a moment and don’t look away. Attempt eye contact with the boy who makes you uncomfortable. Say hi. Give his tired mom a smile.

Give her a smile that conveys the message that we’re all in this together.

Your smile may just be the one thing, today, that lets her know that there truly is empathy and wonder.

And it’s Everywhere.

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