In our technologically advanced, “just google it”, and “ask SIRI” culture, every fact we could ever want is literally at our fingertips. Anyone with a Smart phone has literally turned into a know-it-all. Knowledge has never been so easy to acquire and you would think this would make us a more balanced and peaceful society. But anxiety levels are higher than ever. It seems that the more we know the more stressed out we become.
It is easy to believe that knowing more should bring us more certainty, about our lives and our futures. But certainty, and especially future certainty, is an elusive concept in a quantum Universe where 96% of it is made up of black holes and dark matter. Where Light acts as a wave and a particle, though they are two mutually exclusive things, and when the Universe is expanding at a mind-blowing rate. When some of the atoms that used to be in me are now in you or in the veggies I grow in my garden. There are natural laws, yes, and then, there is mystery, wonder, the miraculous, the inexplicable, and unexplained phenomena. The new association suggested in today’s blog is to move from craving certainty to welcoming Wonder!
What is wonder? “A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration caused by observing something beautiful, unexpected, inexplicable”. This is the dictionary’s attempt to catalog the concept of wonder. But I would suggest that wonder is more easily grasped with images or memories. For instance, do you remember the exact moment your very first child entered the world, or the first time you made love to that exquisite being who you had adored with your heart for so very long? What about watching a massive thunderstorm over the ocean, or a double rainbow after said storm, or surfing a 40 foot wave at Mavericks and living to tell about it? Wonder by its very nature is not certainty or knowledge or a gathering of facts. It is visceral and hearted/body based sensations that cause deep emotions, some would say it enlivens our very souls.
If I am like most humans, I long for wonder while wanting certainty at the same time. But I would posit, they are often opposite sides of a coin and being open to wonder may mean I let go of demanding control, the human means used to accomplish certainty. Being open to the present moment as opposed to controlling it so the outcome is as I desire, allows me to experience any wonder that may be lurking. (And the more I try to stay open, the more wonder I find lurking).
I will close this blog with a poem I wrote as a way for me to make sense of my decade-long journey to try to move toward wonder. I hope it reaches places inside you where my logical words cannot. And may you find Wonder and mystery lurking in plain sight as you go about your daily life.
A long time ago, I traded Wonder
for knowing, certainty, and a sense of control
like a shrewd camel trader
looking for the better deal.
Now, I’m still wanting wonder while
craving security, safety and knowing what’s coming.
In a competition between a want and a craving,
the craving wins every time.
What if I craved wonder with every fiber
of my substantial being. What would life look like?
And the craven voice of my fear-based life form,
why I crave surety in the first place,
whispers, “What will you have to let go of’?
Like a rock climber whose rope’s ripped,
clings to the crack in the rock for dear life,
my human, grasping fingers grip,
every shred of certainly and all I have gained
gathered and amassed along the way.
The fear of farther loss,
seems a blow from which I will not recover.
Though choosing to let go, and be emptied,
is nothing like
having self, personhood and dignity
ripped out of your body and being
from as far back as you can remember.
But to the body, loss is loss
and the fear runs silently, in the background
of my mind like a software virus.
Then, I watch imperfectly formed, bold outlines
of humans choosing wonder
and her wingman, JOY
and my grasping, gripping fervor
seems less appealing, and loosening,
my fingers enjoy the break,
while my heart opens an inch more,
and then God with infinite patience
perpetuates the cycle.
Year by year this rhythm repeats
until that day dawns,
when I will trade certainty for Wonder
and like that camel trader,
will walk away laughing because,
I got the better deal!
by Wanda Brothers
1.) Where do you find yourself, if anywhere, in this blog? Do you crave certainty? If so, what is the hit or reward you get from being certain? What would it be like to surrender this craving just for a few hours?
2.) What relationships do you have with Wonder? Can you stop and bring to memory one or more instances of Wonder you have experienced? If you can, notice the body sensations that accompany this memory. Wonder is expansive, cleansing, and revitalizing. Watch children experience Wonder if you need a refresher course.