How can we look at a butterfly and NOT be in awe?
It’s one of these instances where logic and rationality are not really helpful.
Because here’s the thing:
We can fully understand that the planet we live on is a dynamic, colorful miracle, created in the moment.
We can look at the plants and the animals and the mountains and the rainforests and the oceans and the humans, intellectually realize how amazing and wonderful all of that is, and STILL be upset about where our neighbor parked his car.
It’s killing, the narrow bandwidth our mind allows us to live in, while the world is so endless and boundless and rich and magical.
Why does this happen?
Of course I don’t claim to know why we are so blatantly blasé, but let me offer some suggestions.
I reckon it’s partially because we are so deeply occupied with the anxiety-ridden stories of our minds, which sucks away most of our awareness.
Another reason is probably that our ability to quickly and automatically label stuff is quite helpful in new situations (even in life generally), but if we experience something as if we somehow already know what’s going on or as if we’ve been in a similar situation, we also lose the freshness and the uniqueness of it.
We’ve seen a couple of butterflies before, so we’re just not that impressed anymore (while children ALWAYS see every butterfly as the new and unique animal it truly is and which they’ve never seen before).
Young kids don’t have to practice mindfulness and gratitude, because they’re still effortlessly living in the innate state of being present and flabbergasted and unburdened by a fully developed mental framework.
But, coming back to losing our sense of awe: maybe there’s this other thing.
Maybe most of us stop seeing the absolute endless wonder of life, because it’s just too overwhelming.
If we’d truly realize and experience how beautiful and special and intricate and intriguing everything around us is, from a pebble to a skyscraper, from a broken button on a shirt to a raging storm, we might not be able to move, to move on, to pay attention to the mundane tasks that life asks from us.
We might just get deliciously paralyzed by the dazzling unfolding of life, and every second would feel like a full-blown new adventure.
We’d walk outside and never ever reach our destination, because we’d be completely lost in the journey.
We’d stop worrying completely -and where’s the fun in that!
Children live that spontaneous awe until we teach it out of them.
In the first years of their lives, they are mostly allowed to discover and stumble and touch and feel whatever it is they encounter, without the numbing effect of the purely conceptual, labeling mind.
They don’t know life yet, which makes everything special and keeps it that way.
They start out free, WE start out free, completely free.
And sometimes that makes me incredibly sad.
Both for the kids that get innocently robbed of their beautifully creative naivety and sense of wonder, and for me, for us, the grown-ups.
I think we need it, very much.
The not knowing, the not judging, a bit of time without the automatic flattening of everything we experience.
Sometimes I try to find that awe, deliberately, by staring at something for a little while, trying to lose myself in the mystery again.
But you can’t seem to force yourself back into that open, spacious, unstructured curiosity.
Still, we’re not lost.
We were all born with the capacity to be touched by the mysteries of life, so it’s impossible to truly lose that.
We just gradually unlearn to live from that place.
It’s when we stop making our chattering minds as important as we do, when we start to recognize and consciously invite the deeper nature of our being, that the awe returns.
Because our deeper nature IS awe.
We’re not really lost.
We’re just very, very preoccupied.
And finding back that talent to be deliciously overwhelmed by every aspect of life, is the result of reconnecting to our childlike, unspoiled, spacious neutrality.
It’s still there.
The rediscovery of untainted beauty and wonder starts with longing for it.
It’s the deep wish to feel more, see more, live more.
And you can start wishing today.
The world has been patiently waiting for you.
(Photo by @monroefiles, for Unsplash)