Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Cultivating a sense of wonder isn’t a problem for me and, as far back as I can remember, has never been. It doesn't seem to be something I need to cultivate. It just grows in me on its own. I am in awe of nature and the universe around me day in and day out, even on my most depressed or difficult days. In high school I discovered Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting” and always thought that, if you changed the word ‘awaiting’ to ‘experiencing” in the following lines of that poem, it would be what life is like—or at least what life is like for me.
“…and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder.”
There is so much around me that amazes me but that I don’t understand and that I want to understand—not just by knowing about it but, when possible, by experiencing it. I look out the window and want to know where do the birds at the feeder go at night or when it’s cold and snowy, how do they fly, what factors allow the tree to go through its changes seasonally and to grow into the unique shape that it has taken in all its particularity. Not only do I want to understand the principles behind those things, but I want through whatever kind of mimicry is possible to understand them in my very being so that I’ll feel firsthand the awe of how it all fits together.
I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of even the smallest area of such wondrous possibilities. I’ve only begun to experience the awe of the world’s religions, of prayer, of stillness, of being at peace and at one with the universe around me. Even in this small area, there is still so much I’m hungry to know firsthand. And then there’s all of the other parts of life yet to explore. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become painfully aware of all the things I won’t experience in this life. I’m too old and in too poor shape physically, for example, to hang glide now and experience just a little of what it would be like to fly. I won’t be able to learn to play all the music or dance all the dances that I’d love to feel within my very being. I won’t be able to live in each of the areas of this earth that I’d like to experience life from within, much less to travel to other parts of the universe. I won’t even be able to know and be amazed by the one small yard of Dobbs Ferry that I spend most of my time in as well as I’d like to. The part of me that is a glutton for wonder finds myself like W.B. Yeats in “A Dialogue of Self and Soul”.
I am content to live it all again
And yet again, if it be life to pitch
Into the frog-spawn of a blind man’s ditch,
A blind man battering blind men…
I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.”