“It’s like the top of the world is right there,” was what he said on our way to school this morning. Of course, it wasn’t. We were late again, had survived another round of life-threatening I-95 driving, and were at a standstill on a road flanked by strip malls. Chipotle-Starbucks-Home Depot-Costco-Target.

But there was this sky. He was right about that. It was the type of sky that you only get in Florida.  It’s something about being at the end of a peninsula.  My friend Jill said once, “There are lots of things wrong with Florida, but the sky isn’t one of them.”  Amen Jill.

This sky had a personality split three ways. Due east, down at the end, there was this pinkish gray – the love child of a dove and cotton candy. And the center part was all blue. Nothing spectacular. An interlude of sorts. A palate cleanser. Wide open, unobstructed, revealing the arc of the globe and sort of remarkable for that.  But the part right above us – the top of the world bit – was a field of cotton ball cloud highlighted by brilliant sun so that the tips of the clouds glowed – like gold. Or maybe as if the door to the Kingdom of Heaven had been cracked open just wide enough for all the glory to slip through for a moment for all of us mortals to drool over.

There was the billboard to the left advertising the sex shop up the road.  And the car blasting bass music so loud it hurt my ear drums. But the kid didn’t register any of that because he is seven, all that other stuff is just a waste of time anyhow and he knows better. It was all top of the world for him. Just the gold and the glow and the miracle bits existed for that boy.

And it reminded me that it’s all just a story we tell ourselves. And that the day we have, the people we know, the work we get, the feedback, the success, basically life as we know it is up to us much of the time, and basically the whole of reality is dependent on us and what we decide about it. The same morning can be a horrible, miserable commute or the day you got to bear witness to the top of the world.

The author G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” Chesterton too knew that the whole thing was just a choice. He understood that the challenge wasn’t external, that there is no deficit of wondrous things, but rather internal, a problem of ability. He saw that it was not a noun problem, but a verb problem. Wondering about something is a decision, big and important but a decision, nonetheless. We do this deciding, multiple times a day in fact, and given that the outcome of the decision is winner take all, good day vs bad day, valuable employee vs waste of resources, satisfying life vs something missing, we must do it wisely. It really is a shame for us to starve when with a simple shift in mindset we can be stuffed to the brim with “top of the world.”