I’m about to draw parallels between comedian Louis C.K., my favorite Victorian character Jane Eyre, our Saturday Hatha Star yoga class, and camels. Hold on tight; I promise it will make sense soon.
All of these things have been making me consider the notion of wonder (and delight, surprise, and, ultimately, joy).
I think we tend to define the word wonder with only one of its meanings: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty, as in “I wonder what the future holds.”
But its primary meanings are much more romantic: a cause of astonishment or admiration; marvel; rapt attention or astonishment at something mysterious or new to one’s experience.
I’m about to make a point that Louis C.K. makes in a much funnier way in the video clip below, but here it is: We use words like amazing and awesome on a regular basis (or, at least, I do) to describe somewhat regular things. But it is truly beautiful to wonder at the world — and I think most of us forget to do it. We’re in too much of a hurry or are too jaded to be curious about the things around us and to be delighted by what we observe.
Here’s Louis C.K. being snarky, but also, in a way, kind of sweet about wonder; I watched him do this bit last Friday night.
Then early Saturday morning, I picked up where I left off in my annual reading of Jane Eyre — and was struck anew at Jane’s sense of wonder about the world. Her life as a humble governess in a remote mansion means that even the most mundane experiences — the receipt of a letter, an unknown man arriving in a carriage, a game of charades, a feather stuck in the hair of an eligible young lady, a carriage ride to town — are filled with surprise and delight. She has literally never seen anything like them, so when they pop up before her eyes, she’s stricken with new emotions and reactions. She wonders at them. One of my favorite things about reading Jane Eyre is to put myself in her shoes and to imagine the thrill of wagon wheels on the gravel and what mystery they might hold… to enjoy the vicarious thrill of seeing through inexperienced eyes.
Later Saturday morning, I went to my Hatha Star yoga class. All this month, our instructor is teaching us the meaning of our opening invocation, encouraging us to find delight, to find bliss in being our true selves.
Namah Shivaya Gurave
I offer myself to the Light, who is the True Teacher
within and without (the teacher of all teachers),
Who assumes the forms of
Reality, Consciousness and Bliss,
Who is never absent and is full of peace,
Independent in its existence,
It is the vital essence of illumination.
Super groovy! But, again, beautiful and sweet. Who doesn’t want bliss? Who wouldn’t welcome delight?
So I was primed and ready when something wondrous and delightful happened in our neighborhood in a most unlikely place. As we drove past the Chuck E. Cheese a few blocks from our house, Dave excitedly told me pull over. We turned into the parking lot, and we saw this…
A camel! In South Austin! Eating hay at Chuck E. Cheese.
I have never seen that before. I was delighted.
So my question for you is this: Where will you find wonder and delight today?
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