When was the last time you experienced wonder? Do you remember?
Albert Einstein said, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
As good as dead? Ouch!
Children have no trouble experiencing wonder, especially this time of year. Little ones relish in the excitement leading up to the holidays. Meanwhile, adults are head-down focused on finishing year-end projects, shopping for gifts, and preparing for holiday events.
Sadly, it’s not just this way during the holidays. We spend far too many days with blinders on and fail to recognize the extraordinary all around us.
Without wonder, we risk becoming apathetic and indifferent.
Why don’t we, as adults, tap into our own childlike wonder more often?
It’s certainly not because we don’t have awe-inspiring experiences, but we’re busy, stressed, and distracted. Caught up in the mundane, most everything seems routine.
In addition, we tend to rationalize. Instead of marveling at something amazing, we try to explain it away. After all, there’s a logical reason for everything, right?
Think about it for a minute. The sun rises each morning. Birds fly. The wind blows in storm clouds and rain falls from the sky. Butterflies emerge from cocoons. Babies enter the world. All are commonplace but yet, no less striking.
Why should we embrace wonder?
Wonder is a mix of mystery, curiosity, exhilaration and joy that resonates with the childlike spirit deep within us. We’re wired for wonder. It’s built in. We just have to tap into it.
Philosopher and poet Friedrich Nietzsche said, “In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.”
Wonder is what stirs that kid. Children are fully present when they play. They don’t look for a scientific explanation. They lean into the moment with lightheartedness and no agenda. They are open.
When we allow ourselves to drop the need to understand and let curiosity hang suspended, we awaken and embrace wonder.
Pausing and Standing Rapt in Awe
While walking the dogs recently, I encountered the most amazing sight in the sky: a perfect halo around the sun accented by sun dogs on each side. As I glanced further, I saw what appeared to be an upside down partial rainbow above the halo. The glorious display stopped me in my tracks.
All I could do was stand in awe. I felt giddy like a child. My curious mind exploded with wonderment of how this was even possible.
Of course, there was a logical explanation. The beautiful optic phenomenon was caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. What I referred to as a partial upside down rainbow is called a circumzenithal arc.
Atmospheric conditions just happened to be right to create the stunning show. Yet even now, armed with the knowledge of how it occurred makes it no less wondrous to me.
As the colorful arc faded and clouds rolled in to soften the halo that day, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in the area never saw it. Something so miraculous and rare was right before them but they never knew because they never looked up.
Don’t Miss the Wonder
Honestly, it had been a long time since I’d experienced wonder. It felt good. I also was surprised by the afterglow that remained after this rediscovery. The moment provided a valuable lesson. I need to pause more often and stand rapt in awe.
Pausing is a challenge for us but the benefits can be spectacular. Opportunities for wonder are everywhere, often right in front of us. Look up. Look around. Remain open.
This holiday season, take time to pause from the routine. Enjoy holiday events. Take in the sights, sounds, and scents of the season.
How can you make conditions right this holiday season to experience childlike wonder?