Zoos are pretty special places. They’re pretty much the only place where you can see a penguin and a tiger within walking distance of each other, outside of Build-a-Bear or the stuffed animal section of a toy store. They’re just about the only place where it’s normal for someone to come up and say, “Hey, did you see the silverback gorilla?”. Zoos also seem to bring out whimsy in people to an unusual extent.
Whimsy, according to my computer, is “playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor.” If you don’t have someone in your life who consistently acts this way, think of Giselle, the main character in the Disney movie Enchanted. If you haven’t seen that movie, well, that’s a tragedy of epic proportions. Also, you should get to know Wendell, our Designer of Experience. That title alone should tell you something about his whimsy levels.
It’s difficult to describe Wendell to anyone who doesn’t know him. Words that try to describe him usually end up curling up in a little ball and crying from their utter inadequacy to accurately depict him. So here it goes:
Fun, rambunctious, and young at heart. Unafraid of what others think of him, but ready to turn what they think of him into a potentially life-changing conversation. Searching for new, unique, and fantastic experiences and stories, but constantly thinking of how others can have the best experiences possible. Continuously finding ways to point back to the Creator, and desiring to provide profound experiences with Him to those he interacts with. Willing to do pretty much anything to reach other people, make their day more awesome, or connect with them.
Like I said, no words fully encompass who he is or capture the delightful balance of whimsy, concern for others, and life experience that he has. But, now you have at least a little bit of context about Wendell, so back to the story.
There we were, at the house of whimsy known as the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. There was Wendell, filled with high levels of unrestrained whimsy coursing through him. And there was a bear, lying in the enclosure with one back paw against the glass, clapping his front paws together repeatedly in silent appreciation of his apparently fascinating dreams. As you may have guessed by now, Wendell got down on the sidewalk, copied the position of the bear, and began clapping his hands together in laughing appreciation of the bear.
I guess what I learned from this is that a life full of whimsy demands attention. This is just one example of the many whimsical things Wendell has done. Some make me want to cower and make sure everyone knows I’m not affiliated with him, and others make me happy I’m around him. But all of them make me wish I was more like that. More willing to step out of my comfort zone in order to connect with others. More willing to accept the daily invitation to truly live. More willing to live a life that makes others wonder about the One I’m living for.
//Allen Ramsey//2016 Ambassador