On Wonder

Success is temporal; wonder is eternal.

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The secret to staying truly awake in our life and work is rooted in our ability to cultivate a practice of wonder. Do you remember when you were a child? Everything was wondrous; from the way you marveled at inventions, concepts, foods, and sounds, all of which created new layers of meaning for your young mind and heart.

Wonder doesn’t need a language to survive. It exists in us even before we know how to speak.

As we age, though, all that is external in life influences our inner self and our relationship to wonder. Sometimes wonder feels unnecessary or juvenile. The temptation to minimize wonder to instead pay homage to the pursuit of success is one of the most enduring challenges we humans face.

In simple terms, we begin taking in our meals with agency rather than with the awe. And we sometimes rush our children to do the same. Or we push through the self-inflicted maddening pace of the seasons, merely pausing to curse the slick roadways or fallen trees in the wind. They are an inconvenient truth in the way of our pursuit. We fail to really notice the fallen leaves as they make their journey to earth every autumn. Or to take a moment to stand in the rain grateful that drought will not visit this day.

But what is success really? Isn’t it actually the space between the achievements? Or the quiet hum of the lessons that reverberate beneath our responsibilities? Perhaps success is the thread tying together each piece of our humanity and our ability to stand in awe of it.

All can be wonder, really.

Wonder embraces an open landscape of possibility and opportunity. Wonder doesn’t believe in ‘out of the box’ thinking. Wonder believes there is no box.

Staying awake to the fullness of our expression, leaning into every passage or season of our lives to take in what is meant for us and shed what is no longer in service to our highest good. Wonder helps us stay the course, the true path we are to travel rather than the one the world claims we need in order to be vibrant and purposeful. Success is temporal; wonder is eternal.

Here are a few simple ways to return to the practice of wonder:

  • Connect to the elements of fire, earth, air, and water as you move through the seasons. Take them in. Listen to their wisdom. 
  • Learn something new. Place yourself at the edge of your comfort.
  • Observe your emotions and thoughts without trying to figure them out. Just observe them.
  • Explore what you deeply enjoy in an average day — notice the specific moments–big or small–which give you joy.
  • Laugh. Seek out genuine, positive opportunities to connect with love and laughter alongside others.
  • Listen. Just engage to listen. Drop the desire to respond or up-level the conversation in some way. 
  • Allow space for miracles. Choose awe and openness instead of orchestration of next steps. 

Our purpose and our success is not something to chase. Both abide within us. May we courageously call them forth through the practice of wonder.

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