What if we cultivated wonder?
As I leash up his dog, John stuffs cookies into his pocket. On nice days, we walk a nearby trail. And then we purchase a coffee to go with the cookies, and take a leisurely drive through the countryside just east of town.
John, a retired commercial airline pilot, has Alzheimer’s. My friend, Cynthia, can’t leave her husband alone, so I hang out with him once a week, which allows her time to run errands, purchase groceries, keep a medical appointment.
One of the things I enjoy about being in John’s company is his ability to see the world in delight.
The word Wow shows up quite frequently in conversations with him.
“Oh, my gosh! Look at the size of that mountain! So beautiful! Wow! Wow!”
“Wow, did you see those llamas? So cute! So cute!”
“Wow, look at how high he’s soaring! Did you see that hawk? Oh, look! There’s two of them! Jimeneez!”
I like to think of myself as a noticer, as someone who pays attention to life, to beauty in nature, to the overflowing amount of things there are to be grateful for.
But John surpasses me in so many ways.
This thought from Anne Lamott:
Try walking around with a child who’s going, ‘Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house!’ … The child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, ‘Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny baby!’
There’s an in-town trail that I’ve walked dozens of times — maybe even hundreds of times. I think when something becomes so familiar, we fail to notice the amazingness of it, which applies to our people, as well.
John inspired me to notice this favorite trail anew. To look through his eyes.
The colors of spring. A mama duck conducting swimming lessons. Impossibly tall trees. Rugged rock formations across the water.
Anne Lamott finishes her thought:
I think this is how we’re supposed to be in the world—present and in awe.
Thank you, John, for reminding me to be present in the moment, to be awestruck in the moment.
To pay attention and speak gratitude to the Creator of all this wonder.
To remember to notice the cool breeze off the river, smell the sunbaked pine needles on a dirt-packed trail, listen to the roar of water rushing over boulders, taste the sweetness of a hot Chai tea on an outdoor patio afterward.
How vital is it to see our world through the eyes of a child or an Alzheimer’s patient, to carry wonder as part of our inventory?
It’s critical. Because seeing, really seeing, triggers gratitude. And a grateful heart—especially during hard and holy moments—produces joy. And if we want this joy, then perhaps we should cultivate awestruck-ness.
Call to action
What if we got outdoors at least one day this week — even if we’re only able to travel as far as our front porch or back patio?
And if we have the capability, what if we photographed the beauty and uniqueness that catches our eyes? Because having cameras in our hands causes us to notice more. And what if we listened, really listened, to identify the sounds in nature?
How would this change our outlook as we wrestle with the adversities of life that will surely touch us all?