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Have You Lost Your Sense of Wonder?By Nancy Swisher
October 15, 2008
In this article, Nancy asks you to think about your own sense of wonder. Is it alive and well? Or does it need to be activated?
Flying home to Iowa City after leading a personal transformation program, I witnessed something that inspired me to write this article. My plane had landed in Detroit, taxied to the gate, and stopped. Passengers were still seated, waiting for the door to open and for those in the front of the plane to start to exit. Some began to gather their things. One young man, who I had noticed earlier because he and his army buddy had walked onto the plane in front of me, began to talk on his cell phone in a tone that could be heard. He wasn’t talking too loud. He could be heard because right then no one else was talking. Soon, his narrative became a focal point for all of those around him. Rows of people began to stare.
He was sharing with his family—parents, brothers and sisters-- (it seemed, from his intimate tone) about his flight. It was his first. His excitement was palpable. He talked about the clouds, how beautiful they were. He talked about what it was like to be above the clouds. He didn’t just say one sentence about the clouds; he described them in detail. He exclaimed that the speed of the jet was ‘unbelievable!” He went on and on, articulating in a most amazing way his sense of wonder. His energy so filled my heart.
I looked around at the others who had begun to stare at him. Their faces were expressionless. There were no smiles of recognition or whispers of “isn’t that wonderful.” Were they seeing what I was seeing? Maybe if there hadn’t been so many people staring blankly at him, I wouldn’t have noticed them. But there were probably twenty or so seated and standing all around, their attention fixed on the young man’s description of his first plane ride.
They stared as if they were trying to remember the feeling of wonder this young soldier expressed. I felt like I was watching a drama take place. Part of me wanted to start teaching about wonder. “You have that too,” I wanted to say. There were no smiles of recognition. There were only blank, expressionless faces, as if there was nothing extraordinary going on. But there was something extraordinary going on: a full-out expression of wonderment.
This young soldier had not lost touch with his sense of wonder. Granted, when we experience something for the first time, it may be easier to access wonder because we are more present in the moment. But wonder is always available. It is our nature. The people with the blank faces have wonder beneath their worry, their thoughts, and their stress. But it is buried. Did seeing the soldier make them start to remember their own wonder? I saw no signs.
Today, I sit out back in the sun. The sky is bright blue, the kind of clear blue that makes you feel like you can see into infinity itself. My wonder is with me. There’s a butterfly, yellow and black, flying high up in the shiny leaves of the beech tree. It lands. My gaze meets it. I allow my consciousness to feel the color yellow, to feel the beauty and the being of the butterfly. The butterfly is not a thing. I experience it as a fellow being. Then comes the hummingbird, suddenly swooping down to the magenta flowers of the Rose-of-Sharon bush. The tiny metallic green bird darts from flower to flower. Here I am, completely feeling my sense of wonder.
Does wonder come to us from the outside? Did the jet plane ride cause the young soldier’s wonder? Did the butterfly and hummingbird cause my wonder? No. Wonder is within us. Wonder arises from being present, fully in the moment of one’s life. Presence and wonder go hand in hand.
Some days, I am disconnected from my sense of wonder, just like those observers on the plane. I have the wonder the young man animated so beautifully, and I have the blankness of the other passengers. If both were not in me, I would not see it in them. However, I am grateful for this awareness and know that I have choice over my state of consciousness in any given moment, as do you.
And why is our sense of wonder important to experience? Through wonder comes a deep knowing that we are always connected to All-That-Is. Through our sense of wonder comes communication with the natural world, in the form of insight, inspiration, and thoughts that are aligned with our Essence. Wonder is part of our Guidance system.
When was the last time you experienced your sense of wonder? How long ago? Where were you?
Life-Changing Action Step
Create an experiment. For one week, each day, expect your sense of wonder to make itself known to you. Look for signs of wonder in others throughout your day. Be still long enough to find the feeling within yourself. Take notes at the end of the day.
Nancy Swisher, MA, MFA is a Master Facilitator and Spiritual Life Coach, specializing in guiding people to let go of their limiting beliefs and move into full self-expression by providing an array of leading edge transformational tools. Visit her website at www.soulwordscoaching.com to receive her Free interactive essay 6 Ways to Create Love, Peace & Joy Every Day of your Life!
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