Label Maker: Wonder

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BBEricaWonderThe more I explore these labels, the more I find different facets of my personality. This one has the balance of kind of always being there, yet I’ve never really thought much about it. The word, “wonder,” has such an exquisite meaning. It feels full and beautiful, and altogether inspiring. None of that ever really felt like me, but it is exactly me.

I’m definitely a subtle person. I grew up getting all kinds of attention for all the wrong things. So, I quickly learned that being ignored was a bonus, and became defensively invisible. I am shy, quiet, and I don’t like drama or attention. Yet… I do have a fierce, fabulous streak burning within. I know that I have a lot to offer, and I’m pretty freaking adorable to boot.

This creates an incredibly confusing inner dialogue, readers. Sometimes I feel like two different people; then again, I’m sure we all do.

Enter music. Music is that balm in Gilead for me. No matter my mood or moment, there is music to elevate it. Natalie Merchant delivered the song for the moment we’re discussing:

This may have been one of the first songs to ever make me feel like it was written for me. I know that sounds incredibly emo, but don’t even act like you’ve never been there. I ain’t havin’ it.

Natalie sings of a child so wonderful that it creates a stir, a creation so inspiring that it is inexplicable. I heard it in much more bittersweet tones, but the uplifting vocals pushed through until I felt the emotion she carried.

This song released when I was a teen, developing my mind and my personality, and trying to identify myself. It wasn’t a fun time for Erica, but cranking up the music and dancing in my tiny room to songs that made me …feel… was the time when I got to really live within myself. I know…emo, right? Whatever, I rocked it.

The song came across my radio station today, glibly labeled as a “Throwback” — I guess I’m that old now. I was immediately transported not only to my tiny room and seeing myself dance joyfully in circles while crooning at the top of my lungs; I also felt every bit of that joy filling me in that moment as I drove along on my errands.

It’s incredible: the power of music.

This song has been creeping into my peripheral for months, though. While book shopping at Scholastic’s website, like you do, I found this charming book that I instinctively knew my daughter Astrid would love. The book — written by R.J. Palacio — is titled Wonderand became part of her Christmas haul. I’ll be straight with you, I haven’t taken the time to read it yet, but Astrid couldn’t put it down. She laughed out loud often while reading it, and talked about it almost nonstop until she finished it. She’s a reader, but I’ve never seen her so captivated with a book before. It was a beautiful thing.

We decided to write to Ms. Palacio and share Astrid’s experience with the book. While researching how to contact her I took a closer look at the book, on the inside cover were the printed words from Natalie’s song:

“They say I must be one of the wonders
Of God’s own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation”

Furthermore, the story in Ms. Palacio’s book, is the story of a small boy with a facial deformity. It’s his tale of entering a public school system after being homeschooled through most of his primary years. Parallels, anyone?

I do plan to read this book. It was such a delight for Astrid, that I simply have to discover it myself. But I am almost afraid. Just the premise and the connections to other parts of my life are so intriguing, I wonder if it will be too intense. I’ll let you know.

As I mentioned, this book and song have been floating in the vapor of my world for months. It’s like my own little Jiminy Crickett, but instead of being my conscious, it has become my confidence.

How has this manifested for me? For one, just the process of singing is an empowering experience for me, as you may remember. So, singing a song this inspiring is bound to rub off on the emotional coils of my consciousness. The elements of the lyrics are also rather evocative of my life: feeling different and under a spotlight while also trying to find the parts of myself that were valuable and overcame that which seemed to fall short of expectations. I began to be able to see every bit of my self-worth, almost defiantly, as I sang this at the top of my lungs. Sorry, that should be present tense: “I FIND my self-worth as I SING this song.” It’s a continuing battle.

There aren’t many new things in my life that I struggle with. I’ve gotten a pretty good rhythm for it all. The fight is all the remnants of that which came before, seeping to the surface just as I think I’ve got it tamped down. However, as I continue, I am reminded of the way this song has woven itself into the fabric of how I see myself, and it is…well…wonderful.

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