Have you ever wanted to spark your sense of wonder? I love the word ‘wonder’. I also feel that I have a good sense of wonder. I charge at full speed and then hard stop….. something beautiful catches my eye. A bird foraging for sustenance. A moody sky looming dark and misty in the distance. A dog joyfully chasing his much coveted ball. The sun glistening on the mountains. I’m blessed to have that level of awareness that sparks my inner joy and sense of wonder.
Nature Can Spark Your Sense of Wonder
In February 2023, we arrived in Antartica and let awe sink in to our very being. When I saw this photo taken on our first day floating through the glacial water of this magical place, the word that came to me immediately when I saw the look on our faces – wonder. I see this picture and remember how nature’s beauty blissfully assaulted all our senses. I also recall the crew on the upper deck with the same look of wonder on their faces. We had a collective sense of wonder!
Over the years, I’ve been quite preoccupied with the concept of wonder. I’ve wanted to write about it many times but never get to it. Perhaps because I want the mystical magic of it to linger and not try to put words to it. Instead, just feel it in my soul. I’ll stumble upon something written about wonder and it stokes my desire to get all those feelings about it down on paper. And then I don’t. Interestingly, I’ve actually been okay with letting that go. And yet, here I am … finally writing about wonder.
Live Each Day Like It’s Your First
Suleika Jaouad is the best-selling author of ‘Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted.’ Side note here: it is a truly profound and deeply moving book about her fight with cancer – read it and you will understand what it means to live with chronic illness. That book was instrumental in helping me to navigate the grief of my sister’s choice to die. Recently, Suleika wrote about wonder, fittingly calling the blog ‘In Praise of Wonder‘.
She writes of how when you’re faced with a serious illness, there is a lot of talk about living each day like it’s your last. Suleika admits that may work for some people, but for her, it adds a level of pressure that isn’t sustainable. Instead, she has shifted her mindset to live each day as if it’s her first. When she is feeling most weary, she tries to look at everything around her with fresh eyes, to seek out and hold onto wonder. Ahhhhh, a girl after my own heart!
Suleika goes on to share that wonder isn’t necessarily found in material things, but in the things that made her feel “safe and loved and joyous as a child”. For her, those feelings of safety, love and joy are achieved through creativity. As a youngster, she would grab her charcoal sticks and head to her mother’s studio in the attic and make giant, glorious messes. She writes, “at that age, creativity felt joyous, egoless, purely fun….. a blank page held endless possibility. I could trace out my dreams. I could tell a tale.”
I hear you Suleika! While I have always found comfort through many creative outlets, writing has always been my solace. I can take a blank page and fill it with my dreams, frustrations, hopes, joys, anger, wisdom, confusion. I can make sense out of the world or accept that it doesn’t make sense. I can soothe my soul. Celebrate my life. Rage at the injustices. And of course, capture the wonder of the world.
Just Look Around You
Wonder is everywhere but one of the places you will most certainly witness it is in children. Suleika recently shared an essay by Maggie Doyne, who was honored as an Unsung Hero of Compassion by the Dalai Lama for her work with women and children in Nepal. The essay is a reflection on the smallest humans—often wise beyond their years, living each day like it’s their first.
Maggie writes, “When I look into the eyes of a child, it’s almost impossible for me to feel anything other than hope. While my brain churns in fear and doom scrolls on my phone, I look down and see a three-year-old holding a perfectly smooth stone in their hand, in awe and wonder. They ask me to keep it safe in my pocket.” She also shares a story of a six-year-old pointing to the sky, and saying, “Maggie, did you SEE THE MOON?!”
You see, children are our greatest teachers if you let them be. That truth can certainly inspire each of us to relish in wonder.
Stop and Relish in Wonder
Ahhhh… relish in wonder. And to do that – spark your sense of wonder.
A sense of wonder is defined as “a feeling of awakening or awe triggered by an expansion of one’s awareness of what is possible or by confrontation with the vastness of space and time.“
It requires a conscious effort of awareness to spark your sense of wonder. Life can take us down a path of busyness, scrolling, oblivion, blindness, inattentiveness. But, we can train ourselves to be present in the moment – or even to be present for mere seconds. To put down our phones and embrace a willingness to make wonder the priority. To awaken our senses to everything around us. To bask in the moody, gray cloud formations instead of begrudging the rain. To confront the vastness of space and time and welcome in what’s important. To spark your sense of wonder.