Do you ever wonder?
Have you noticed how everything has gotten really awesome recently?
At least that’s how it sounds, because common language is getting doused with words like amazing, insane, and mind-blowing.
Things aren’t just funny anymore, they’re hilarious (as Louis C.K. has brilliantly pointed out.)
Don’t worry, this isn’t a lecture about the over-use of hyperbole. (Although aspiring writers may want to take heed – sometimes writing is more effective if you tone it down a notch.)
No, this is a few words about wonder.
How many times today did you use (or hear) the word “awesome”?
Now, when was the last time something truly filled you with awe?
Last month I went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. It's something I make a point to see every year.
Every time I go to this exhibit I feel wonder. The kind that makes me feel small. In a good way.
It’s not just wonder at the big, big world around us. I also feel inspired by the dedication to wonder; the patience and humility required of each photographer.
Permission to wonder
When I started my business I sometimes felt a little uneasy, maybe even a little voice of nagging guilt, about my tendency to slow down sometimes:
Carefully, thoughtfully peeling an egg.
Watching a bee pollinate flowers.
Observing my cat as she stalks imaginary prey.
But I came to correct myself pretty soon because I realized: sensitivity, curiosity, and wonder is my business. And it needs fuel.
Taking my time to observe the little things, or sit in a big pool of wonder like an art gallery or nature, that is part of my work. It propels my calling.
What about yours?
To tell your story, start with wonder
You don't have to be a writer to choose to bear witness to the stories in life, including your own.
Stories are all around us. That egg is a story. That bee and that flower is a story. That cat is a story (is she ever.)
But let me pause and acknowledge something. It's not just because we're busy that we're apt to overlook the real wonder.
I think we choose to overlook it because wonder hurts. At least a little.
Our lack of control in the world, our vulnerability, our smallness, and our significance - the impact we can have on the people and things around us - all of these things become more apparent when we let ourselves wonder.
A little pain is the price for remembering how big the world is.
And if you're willing, it's worth it.
So if you feel like you have something to say but can't; if there's a story inside you that's not getting told; if you find it difficult to put into words the bigness of what you feel, try slowing down.
Give yourself permission to look closer at the small things.
Write in detail about the tiniest of your discoveries or observations.
Share not your overwhelming emotion, but your little, tiny whispers of wonder. The shiver of pain. The breath you've yet to take.
Then share your wonder with all of us.
The world needs it.