CHASING DOWN THE MUSE
‘He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to
wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead ... " I think that
when Albert Einstein made this statement, he cannot have been
thinking of the word in its full meaning of reverence, respect, dread
When we say something is “awesome,” dread is not what comes to
mind. But when we consider antonyms for “awe” -- disrespect,
disregard, apathy, or indifference -- Einstein’s point is well taken.
Awe, in the fullness of its meaning is to be alive, wonderfully
alive. It is to feel, to see, to hear, to think, to touch and be
touched, whether out of fear or wonder.
I am reminded of a story I heard recently in which a young child
in a crowded airport waiting area found everything to be “awesome.”
The small dog in a carrier -- awesome! The electric wheelchair --
awesome! A plane taking off -- awesome! Clearly embarrassed, the man
accompanying the child apologized to those around him: “I’m sorry my
granddaughter is going on like this,” he said. “She still thinks
everything is wonderful.”
I hope so! Awesome!
What are some of the awesome things experienced in your life?
Right this minute, some of the things by which I am awed: the 11
runs in the first two innings of the second game of World Series play
this week; the congressional vote giving President Bush war powers
against Iraq; the continued sniper attacks in the east; the immensity
of the ocean and its constant ebb and flow; the rise and fall of the
stock market and its influence and impact; the miracle of the human
body and mind as our longevity is ever-increased; technological
advances so vast most of us cannot even imagine them; the myriad
variety of birds along our seashore; the Grand Canyon and the mighty
Colorado River that runs through it; humankind’s ability to hate and
its counter -- the ability to love in a selfless manner; the beauty
of a grove of giant Sequoias; the miracle of birth; the speed at
which time passes ... I could go on and on.
Life is good. Sometimes it’s not so good. Sometimes it is even
downright miserable. I stand in awe of it all, for, like Einstein, I
can imagine it no other way.
How can we hold on to that strange place where the adult in the
child and the child in the adult meet? How can we attain and maintain
that place of wonder wherein we are aware of the fearfulness in the
thing itself, yet we choose our way, choose how to act in a given set
Let me propose the following: What do you see? Look with the eyes
of a child for just a moment. Now what do you see? Share your
experience with someone right away. If you’re alone, call someone.
Sharing wonder can be contagious. While you are at it, you might ask
this person about their experiences -- what things large or small do
they find to be awesome?
Long-range -- set a goal, maybe to see five awesome things in each
day. Set yourself up. Go new places. Stretch your boundaries. Try new
things. And always look at the old things anew. If you had just
arrived from outer space or just awakened, as did Rip Van Winkle,
what might fill you with reverence, respect, dread and wonder? (I
suddenly have a vision of how it might look to Rip or the spaceman to
see two folks high-fiving as they say in unison, “Awesome, Dude!”)
Start a list of these evocations of wonder and keep adding to it. Go
for one hundred items.
How do you think you are awesome? If someone tells you that your
work is awesome, ask her why. Ask this question any time you hear
someone refer to anything as awesome (it’s that contagious thing
again). Why not? What have you got to lose? Just as Einstein
observed, to not know wonder and awe is as good (or bad) as to be
dead. On the other hand, those who pause “to wonder and stand rapt in
awe” will be truly alive. They will see things that others may miss.
With this attention, life can be exquisite and very awesome.
* CHERRIL DOTY is a creative living coach, writer, artist, and
walker who lives and works in Laguna Beach. Contact her by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (949) 251-3883. Your thoughts and
questions are appreciated.