If wonder is the precursor to joy, how can we help each other kindle moments of wonder? Can we give our dearest ones gifts or moments that foster curiosity, creativity, and astonishment?
When we practice pursuing wonder, we can find joy. The goal is to get out of our heads and grown-up thinking, and into our child bodies. Wonder requires zero talent or skill.
Have you ever been in a hot tub or sauna and hopped out of it to roll in the snow? With naked legs and bare feet, you run across the freezing ground, screaming? Then when you finally roll in the snow, your skin tingles all over? That feeling is wonder. Hazel and I tried this at the rec center recently. It cost $5.
Pick someone and become their “Wonder Buddy.” Ask them, When have you felt wonder? Or What are you curious about trying? Next, make it your job to foster their sense of wonder all next year. (You can call yourselves the Wonder Twins. No one in the Justice League cartoon will mind.) For example) Ever since watching My Octopus Teacher, I want to learn to hold my breath under water longer, so that one day I could free dive. My Wonder Buddy would remind me to reserve a lane at the rec center to practice. (Did you know you can’t get Covid-19 in the water?)
Wonder is smaller than joy. Like the word “jot” is to writing a novel. (Thank you, Seth Godin) Like “whim” is to running a marathon. Like sketch is to building a cabin or painting a landscape.
The top three ways to kindle wonder are: 1) learn something new 2) create with your hands 3) spend time outside with nowhere to be.
Think of something you could do with your Wonder Buddy (ies) this holiday season. Here are seven silly ideas to get you started:
- Fill the birdfeeder and watch what comes.
- Invest in a wildlife camera; see what passes by in the night.
- Get up early enough to watch the sunrise.
- Make a point of being outside and IN the sunset.
- Learn to identify trees by their twigs.
- Listen to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and embody the freedom of snow falling. (Thank you Ms. Seham and Siobhan Burke in the NYT)
- There’s always dinner with a squirrel. I found this guy on our local “Craigslist” (Kijiji in Canada) who makes tiny picnic benches for squirrels to sit and enjoy their nuts (and leave your birdfeeder alone!) I bought one yesterday for a friend and plan on mounting it to her tree this week.
I am looking for a Wonder buddy. I’ll nudge you to do whatever lights up your curiosity if you will nudge me to learn to free dive and hold my breath longer under water. And remind me how to knit hats. And make snow angels with me in the park.
I’m fairly certain that pursuing wonder is like dropping bread crumbs to joy. Like paying attention is to prayer. I’ll leave you with this gem by Mary Oliver.
It doesn’t have to be the
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
–Mary Oliver. Thirst.