Wonder begets curiosity, exploration and learning.
Wonder is admiration, appreciation and anticipation.
Wonder is watching an ant in its work-a-day activities, or a spider construct its web.
Wonder is staring up at the night sky.
To understand what it looks and feels like to be in a state of Wonder, spend time with a very young child. To a child, everything is a cause for Wonder— a flower, a cookie, the child’s mother, a balloon. When a child realizes they can stand or clench their fist, they are filled with Wonder. To look upon the world with Wonder is to practice what some Buddhists call “beginner’s mind”— to look upon the world as if doing so for the first time. (That’s why babies are so good at it!)
Wonder is connection to something greater than ourselves.
“Wisdom begins in wonder.” -Socrates
Awe-struck and Awe-stuck
There is a certain Joy in not feeling pressured to have it all figured out. We don’t have to understand the mechanics of a blade of grass to appreciate it and marvel at it. It’s okay to not know and just enjoy. It is okay to be stuck in awe, to be awestruck. This is core to the element of Wonder.
As a society, our general sense of awe or Wonder is becoming increasingly challenged in a world where major technological strides have become commonplace, where movies seamlessly create new worlds with each blockbuster premiere.
These manufactured events, which can be truly astonishing in themselves, tickle a drive for Wonder inherent within us. We get a quick “Wonder Fix.”
We strive for Wonder. We have this fleeting feeling of the constant Wonder we had as a child that has somehow been supplanted by this new manner of seeking quick fixes. On the other hand, some of us live life absent any sense of Wonder at all.
We all want that old sense of Wonder back. It felt like magic. It felt joyful. We felt connected to this magic when we were young. We, of course, do have the capacity to get it back. It often lies dormant, unused, rusty; it is a “use it or lose it” type of thing.
We have to pick it up, dust it off and bring it out into the Light.
Wonder works best when we slow down and engage Stillness. Then we begin to recover Wonder slowly. We can start with basic appreciation for the most mundane aspects of our lives that we have taken for granted. Then, eventually, we can let this appreciation blossom into full-blown Gratitude. We allow our Gratitude to become infused with Joy. We apply Non-judgment and engage Respect, acknowledging the Divinity all around us. We can connect to this Divinity with Communion.
At last, we can start to feel a sense of Wonder. We can become Awe-struck every day at the miracles that surround us in Nature and all which we create out of our own sense of Divine Wonder.
With Wonder, we have a child-like Joy and appreciation for life experience in general. We create a method of Communion with Divinity— a simple method that does not rely on bells and whistles. To feel Wonder at a sight seldom seen, such as a mountain when you live in a city, is expected and comes more naturally, but to experience Wonder on a regular basis we must practice viewing everything from the people we encounter daily to the food we eat to the work we engage in with the same regard.
“Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” –Jesus
Wonder Drives Truth
Curiosity— which one might also call “concentrated Wonder”— may have killed the cat, but it also provides clues to our path and our own Truth. Convention can serve to kill curiosity because convention often narrows one’s choices of pursuit based on the pressures of community, race, religion, gender or economic status.
If we are nurturing Truth for our own children, we want to be aware of the limitations convention has created on us and them, and counteract those as best we can via our own consciousness. For example, we can be curious about our own curiosities. What drives Wonder within us? What topics do we want to explore and what do we have great curiosity about? How do various areas of interest interact within us? Do some collide? Do some build upon each other?
Are there areas of Wonder that you don’t share with others? We sometimes suppress some areas of interest we want to explore for fear of rejection in some fashion. If you could spend your time learning and exploring any area or topic, what would it be, regardless of practicality?
Sometimes the difficulty with Wonder is that no one thing bubbles up as more of an interest than any others. This could be because social convention may have suppressed our Truth, or maybe it is like the pearl in the oyster; it is something that is still slowly developing.
As a matter of honoring this element, we are duty-bound to explore any Wonder which may appear to supersede the others. We sometimes learn our Truth by deduction or by exploring false trails of Wonder that don’t pan out during a given time. Often, we are still gaining knowledge about our passion for its application at a later date.
The Duty to Explore Our Wonders
There came a time in my life when I was in college and I had to pick a major after two years of being officially “Undeclared.” I had reached a point where it became bureaucratically required for me to commit to some subject matter that might stir up the tiniest bit of Wonder in me, or what I thought might be Wonder at the time.
This was difficult for me to do, as I didn’t feel one particular calling, like other students did. So I started my process of discernment by first looking at what I didn’t want to do. I knew I was more social science-oriented than math- and hard science-oriented. That narrowed the fields available to me down considerably.
This was a time when everybody was majoring in business, which was of no interest to me at all. When I questioned my own lack of interest in that subject, the reflection helped me to deduce that I was more interested in public service than anything else.
I ended up majoring in government, which may sound boring but did hold a sense of Wonder for me at the time. How can Service best be provided to the public? How can public bodies engage citizens to settle acrimonious policy questions? How can we shape an organization that is effective and humane? These questions really piqued my curiosity.
I truly identified as a public servant and read up on such issues as conflict resolution, designing effective decision-making processes for public bodies, and organizational psychology.
In time, my Wonder for public service waned. I found myself most intrigued instead by the psychology of the organization and the psychology of people within the organization (and the often fascinating psychology of elected officials, as well). I found myself reading all things related psychology. My Wonder was reignited in this field.
At the same time, I was undertaking exploration into my own psychology— my own history and wounds. I explored this with great gusto and a definite sense of Wonder. In exploring my personal psychology, issues of spirituality came to the forefront. This is a path that is common to many, as our own personal psychology often clashes or entwines with issues of spirituality and since both have to do with the core questions concerning the meaning of life.
I started exploring all things spiritual. I took special interest in meditation, Mindfulness and intuitive development.
My Wonders and curiosities coalesced at some point, and I eventually I became a professional counselor. I focused on Mindfulness. I fell into a yoga practice. I discovered that I liked to write and started doing that, too. I wrote about spiritual topics informed by formal training in psychology and my overall life experiences.
We don’t always know how things are going to unfold or coalesce, but they will do so eventually when you allow them to by actively exploring that which elicits Wonder within you in the moment. The focuses of our Wonder unfold and bleed into each other and eventually arrive at some place we may have never thought of or planned.
To Wonder is to seek guidance. I realize now that each time I pursued a Wonder, I was seeking and receiving guidance. I was getting closer to my Truth. Wonder can give meaning to life and grant Wisdom in daily mundane situations, as we ask consciously what we can learn from each trial we face.
Wonder drives invention. It spurs the Creativity of the poet to the next unknown stanza and pushes the Reason of the mathematician towards a logical conclusion. We have a duty to explore our Wonders and let them unfold.
“Every time we learn something, our perspective changes.” -Hunter S. Thompson
Wonder of Self and Other
Wonder about self will often take us on a Healing journey. Life will give us feedback or we will sense areas where we need to Heal. Our lives may not be working in certain areas. We may not feel happy. As we Wonder about all of this, we learn; we become more curious, and we seek further Healing. We may take breaks here and there, but then we may sense other areas which trigger our curiosity for greater exploration and Healing.
As we Heal, wounds that formerly blocked or masked our Truth will fall away and new Wonders will emerge that will uncover more Truth for us to pursue. Still deeper, the ultimate Wonder within─ our own Divinity─ will always be calling. Let us be bold enough to hear it.
With others that we are engaged in personal relationships with, a sense of Wonder will feed Love and that Love will feed Wonder. Love Wonder-fully. In romantic partnerships, we can enjoy our partner without having to have them “all figured out.” We can be awe-struck with their presence on a daily basis. We can see their Divinity and their mystery and allow ourselves to be in Wonder about that. Continued Wonder with an intimate partner may tell us that this partner is part of our own Truth. We will often then feel duty-bound to honor that call and continue explore the mystery of that person and our relationship to them.
“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” -Frida Kahlo
There may come a point when what inspires Wonder may make itself known as just a phase or a simple hobby. On the other hand, Wonder might make itself known to you as a reflection of who you are; it is part of your path, part of your Truth.
When the latter happens, this is your heart speaking to you and it is an opportunity to abide by what it says. Courage is needed in this phase. Courage with Wonder will knock up against your own sense of Truth. If you follow its trail, it will transform you. People may say, “Don’t quit your day job.” But Courage will help you develop an escape in the face of naysayers as you plan and pursue that Wonder.
The more we learn about our Truth, the more Courageous we will be in pursuing it.
Wonder can be shut down by applying a one-size-fits-all method of exploration. Everyone learns differently and Wonder is an experience best inspired by experience. In Nurturing Wonder, the person being inspired needs to find the best method of experience that works for him or her. We as individuals have to be aware of our own learning styles so that we can pursue Wonder in a manner that stokes it within us.
We even have to Wonder about what we may need to unlearn!
We don’t need to have an “end game” with Wonder. We don’t have to hold ourselves to some standard of mastering that which we hold Wonder for. In fact, holding onto some mystery about the process in general will instill greater Wonder within us. To assume mastery is to stave off Wonder. We need not seek perfection. We can simply do our best and enjoy our experience.
“Can a bird ever tire of having wings?” Robin Jeffers
Loss of Wonder
I think about the story of Peter Pan when I think about the loss of Wonder. This is the kid who refused to grow up and wanted to hold onto the magic and mystery of flight. He could fly because he believed he could and he was not loaded down with the practicality of the adult world. He was holding onto childhood and, in doing so, was keeping the Wonder and the magic of childhood that allowed him to fly. His character serves as a contrast to those who have lost their sense of childhood Wonder and magic as they “grew up.”
For some, there may be a definitive point when they lost that childlike mindset and took on the more “appropriate” countenance of adulthood and practicality. Their brow furrows. They worry about their retirement plan or their next promotion.
When we lose Wonder, we take on indifference, apathy and routine. We lose sight of the daily magic of Nature around us and even take for granted man-made concoctions once rooted in Wonder, such as riding a bike or flying a kite. We get caught up in expectations that everything is simply supposed to work, function and help us slog through our daily routine, instead of consciously pausing for Wonder.
We can become arrogant as well when we have lost Wonder, thinking that we have everything all figured out and there isn’t anything out there worthy of being awestruck by.
Cynicism and suspicion may even arise in place of Wonder. If these negative energies become commonplace, we can block ourselves from experiencing Wonder at all, essentially living in a constant state of low-grade fear and negativity instead.
Loss of Wonder is a sad, sad thing. We don’t have to be delusional or believe in fairytales to live with a sense of Wonder. We just have to be able to see the miracle that life can be when we are conscious of it and recognize the Divinity in everything. We also have to be okay with not having everything figured out. We can hold on to some of the mystery of life.
“If we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we are from, we have failed.” -Carl Sagan
Joy, Light, Optimism and Simplicity contribute to the ability to have a child-like mind open to Wonder and learning. There is an irony that the most mature act we can engage in is to sustain a child-like mind. Furthermore, with Non-attachment and Non-Judgment, we are not clinging to any outcome or expectation and we can remain joyously stuck in awe-mode. Wisdom guides us and we recognize a sanctuary of learning.
Stillness helps us to slow down in order to notice that which is Wonderful all around us and within us.
Surrender and Faith help us to bow into this sanctuary and accept the vulnerability inherent in living with mystery.
Many other elements spur Wonder by the simple action of contemplating their purity and gifts. Nature, Beauty and Body can be endless fountains that spark and inspire Wonder.
Truth and Courage incite Wonder.
Nurturance can be applied to Wonder so as to keep it thriving and so as not to lose it. It is a fire fed with a fuel of attention and Surrender to it.
- Take inventory of what inspires awe in you. Take inventory of what inspired awe in you as a child. Feel the Joy and Wonder associated with these experiences.
- Select some aspect of what inspires Wonder for further exploration. Explore and learn more about that subject in a manner consistent with your learning style.
- Spend time with small children.
- Fly a kite. Literally, go out to a park or open space and fly a kite, just you and your “child” self.
- Spend time in Nature, preferably alone and in Stillness. Focus in on some aspect of Nature which elicits Wonder. Stay with it. See Nature daily and capture its awe.
- Wonder about yourself. Are there things that you don’t know about yourself? Are there still areas for you to explore for Healing?
- Look for everyday miracles deserving of admiration and curiosity.
“There are only two ways to live your life, as if nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle”
I Am Open to the Wonders and Beauty of the World; I See Wonder in All God’s Gifts.
I Am Joy, Wonder and Light. I Am That.
I Am Pure Energy, Peace at this Moment, Courageous and Willfully Present.
I Look and See Miracles Every Day; I Am a Miracle of Life.
I Am the Mystery and Love of Life.
It is Okay to Just Wonder, to Sit in Joy and Awe. And Just Wonder.