“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery in which we were born.” Albert Einstein
noun: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
Last year at this time, we realized a life-long dream to travel to the Galapagos. Each day was a wonder and an adventure. On these gray days in Seattle – how do we expose the “”unexpected, unfamiliar and beautiful?” What allows us to notice the details of a flower, the quick mind a your friend, the nuances of taste in a broth, the clever turn of phase in a book? Is wonder loud, quiet, or both? These discoveries surround us when we are willing to quiet our assumptions and what we already know.
wonder – verb: desire or be curious to know something.
Daily experiences of wonder require the courage to cultivate a curious mind and interest in the present moment. A student of mine for many years, Bernadette, was a painter. She had an accident, as a young woman, that left her with debilitating spasticity throughout her body. She could grasp a paintbrush with her index finger and thumb of one hand. In this way, she brought to life memories of the sea, sailing, shopkeepers, Chicago – creating vibrant and nuanced shapes and colors. She had a rich palate of detailed memory.
“Seven to eleven is a huge chunk of life, full of dulling and forgetting. It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armor themselves against wonder.” Leonard Cohen
Does maturity cancel out our ability to recognize the miraculous? How do we recognize the “unfamiliar?” When listening to a friend, are we tuned into their intent, words, emotional state, physical expression, tone of voice – our own response, what we might say at the next pause, what our next meal will be, or our grocery list? Our brains are so complex that we can attend to multiple things simultaneously. Do we sacrifice what is in front of our nose while doing our daily tasks? When we quiet our inner banter we are freer to receive new input – learning what we do not already know: the kindness in the eyes of a friend, the changes today of my maturing son, the details of a solo in the recording that we assumed we knew forward and backwards. Weekly or daily experiences of wonder, requires the courage to cultivate a curious mind and interest in the present moment
When my son and his pals were little, they often talked about how bored they were… My response was that boredom was the state that led Einstein to his wondrous discovery of the Theory of Relativity. Is boredom such a bad thing?