I’ve never given wonder much thought. I marvel at and celebrate things frequently. I guess I’m easily impressed. But how do I process wonder? Can I explain how I cultivate it?
I think that cultivating wonder starts with awareness. You can’t have a sense of wonder over something that doesn’t even ping in your brain. A friend’s newborn isn’t wonderful unless you know he exists. If you never look up at night, how can you gape at the beauty of the stars?
Next you need a dose of curiosity. If you are constantly blase about life, then you never get to experience wonder. Your curiosity-less experience merits no more than a first glance and a “yeah, whatever”. In addition to curiosity, novelty helps create wonder.
From curiosity I naturally move into observation. I want to see things thoroughly. For me, looking at all the details that make something wonderful. For example, a seedling in the herb garden pushes its way up through the soil and I see at the dirt still clinging to it, see how it’s just now being touched with green from the sunlight. It’s so cool that this exists and that I can watch it happening.
Then comes comparison. It’s a compare/contrast sort of comparison, not a judgmental one, a chance to think about what I have observed. For example, If I am in awe at a friend’s progress in her personal growth, it’s because I can compare to her self a year ago. I can be in awe of the size of the Hope Diamond because I can compare it to the size of the diamond that I own. If you don’t compare things, then either everything is wondrous or nothing is.
Sometimes, but not always, there’s a point where imagination pops in to my wonderment. I attach stories to things. A portrait in a museum might receive the story of how and why it was painted based on the details I saw when I observed it. Or while looking at the night sky my mind might wander into a fantasy about space travel. I like creating stories. These imaginings help me to cement the experience of wonder, and to appreciate the myriad ways that things can or might happen.
And there’s also a strong dose of mystery in wonder. If I allow myself a bit of ignorance, things seem more wonderful. And have you ever marveled over something, only to have an expert friend give you the practical and technical details on the thing you are awestruck by? It can be a bummer. There is a reason magicians do not explain their tricks.
Wow, I never realised that wonder was such a complex topic.Posted by kuri at December 05, 2010 07:59 AM