The recent winter wonderland in our region resulted in a flood of social media photos of rime ice, heavier than hoar frost, on trees, on everything, and many shared ‘wows’ and ‘awes’.
Photo was taken at St Peter’s Abbey In Saskatchewan.
This sense of awe got me thinking about other times I experience awe and wonder. The first thing that came to mind was a photo of Colton, my great grandson, who just turned one, and had learned to respond to ‘how big are you’ with his arms in the air and a huge ‘look at me’ grin. Even thinking about it now, fills me.
So, I was intrigued when I came across the work of Dacher Keltner, founding director of the Greater Good Science Center at Berkely, and his recently published book AWE: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. He writes that awe is critical to our well-being and his research shows that awe calms our nervous system, just like joy, contentment, and love.
Keltner identifies 8 sources of awe for awe seekers, with the top ranked being “Other people’s actions” (or acts of “moral beauty”). You know, for example, when an act of kindness, bravery, or sweetness, can bring you to tears.
Scrolling through my photos and memories confirms that little kids, nature, art, and all kinds of beauty fill me with awe and wonder.
Yes, being in nature and photos of nature often provide me that full body experience of awe. Which is why my Saskatoon Park Pilgrimage, the experience of my granddaughter’s delight with the sunset, and other images of nature often feel so calming.
Then, there’s art, recently I have been appreciating paintings shared on Instagram and noting where there’s a wow factor. I love this painting Snow by artist Alexis Levine.
And for my friend Chandra, and my sister Ann, it is music that can bring them to tears or provide solace in the difficult times. I enjoy when they share songs with me. Passing the wonder on.
Many days awe and wonder jump out at me, and I like the idea of ‘finding awe’ on those days when I really need it. And there’s joy in sharing these experiences with a wish they will uplift others.