With fiction, you’re trying to get people emotionally attached to your characters, not to learn a lesson. Ideally, [readers] get emotionally attached to the characters and those characters’ experiences leave them, in the end, feeling more than they did before.
But this sense of being able to open yourself up to wonder is something you can do at any age. You just have to open yourself to it. Frankly, for me, it's a whole lot easier to do that when you're out in the middle of nowhere, you're cold and you're hungry.