Awe

I have consistently mentioned awe as an emotion in my writing. The reason is simply that I have experienced this feeling of being in places beyond my current frames of reference over and over and over.

I consider awe to be an emotional response and subsequent feelings to those vast stimuli that I sense, that transcend that which I can comprehend. The significant thing about awe, whether it is positive or negative, subtle or intense, is that it makes me feel small. Being awed is to have my understanding of the world challenged. 

Being in awe, whether it was in depth of a winter storm, at the mercy of the Southern Ocean, dwarfed by the Himalaya, or beaten bare by the desert sun has always interested me, and the most emphatic understanding I have achieved from living it, and reading about it is its prosocial power.  By this I mean that it reminds us of our responsibilities to others. It raises our empathic self, shapes us to be more generous and drives us to share in our experiences and more.

Typically, we consider awe to be a response to those things that are grand, however its real wonder lies in when we are awed by what, to others, may seem insignificant. A few weeks ago, while walking down a mountain path, I hung back from the noise of walkers in front of me and searched for silence. In the distance, I heard a bird chirping. A moment where I might have just walked by became something else.  We walk by birds every day, but never stop to listen, to really listen to their calls.  And so it is with so many other small things that we encounter in life.

Dacher Keltner states that finding awe is “intentionally orienting to the world around you. Think for a moment: What will give me the goosebumps? And find it.” He further suggests that awe helps people think more critically, revise their ideas of what is possible in the world and feel a deeper connection to that around them. 

I guess I have been fortunate that I have never been so Intentional in the past and that I have found awe. Nowadays, thanks to a growing awareness of what exists around me I see it more and more in people and places and experiences that had hitherto gone unnoticed.  Today, while driving through the wonder of The Alps, a place of awe for sure, my companion put on some music and as the strains of Pachabel’s 5th Canon reached my ears, I was taken to a place beyond what I had known.  I had always been moved by this piece, as I am by much music, but never in this way.

Two posts ago I wrote of a moment with John. A simple statement from him, which at a previous time may have elicited a smile from me or a feeling of warmth was far more powerful. Realising how this boy saw the world moved me, I was lost in that moment.  I have been lost in many more, many far more mundane than this. The crackle of a fire, the smile of a child, the touch of a hand, the scent of morning coffee, the sound of a breath.  All of these are things to marvel. I could go on and on but, for now, as the church bells chime through the rain in the wee hours, let me end with a question.

Have you ever engaged with someone’s laugh, a peanut, a flower, a drink of gin?  I mean really engaged. Have you ever been with any of these and wondered how they came to be?  Have you ever thought of the intricacy and complexity of events that had to occur for these to exist?  Have you ever considered the interconnectedness that we have? I have, and I do

I wished everyone had such moments.

A wonder of nature – Dongio 2021

Published by Athan Rodostianos

Educator, world traveller, dreamer. The world is there and open. Live it, love it, breathe it share your experiences, be kind, be good.

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