A quick search on a definition for wonder comes up with this –
(noun) a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable
(verb) desire or be curious to know something
If you type wonder into an internet search engine, you’re sure to find “Wonder Woman” and the 2017 film titled “Wonder” after a book with the same name. “The Wonder Years”, a late ‘80s, early 90’s drama series starring Fred Savage, may also show up in your search. What is it about wonder?
To me wonder is all about being open to what might be around the corner, to what might unfold, to being present, fully aware, and curious. If you’ve ever been around a cat, you might also understand where the saying – “curiosity killed the cat” came from. However, did you know that there is another half to that idiom? It goes like this – “curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back”.
To be inquisitive about your surroundings leading to investigation is not a bad thing. We see babies and young children do this all the time. What happens when I touch this, put this in my mouth, pull mommy’s hair, and throw this object? Babies and children are always collecting data and analyzing it as they grow to better inform their choices and actions. They learn that when they do something, another thing happens. They even test it out multiple times to make sure it continues to be true. They are incredible little scientists. The truth is, we can continue in this vein our whole lives. Some of us do and some of us resist this and choose to remain uninterested or ambivalent to what can be learned from trying a new food, visiting a new place, or simply looking at what is around us in a new light.
A couple of weekends ago we discovered water in our basement. Turns out our sump pump, the pump that serves to send water away from the house where it can cause less problems, failed us. As did the battery back up sump pump. We have had a cleaning and restoration company take away all of the carpet and some drywall that was affected. We had large fans and dehumidifiers working around the clock for over a week. We are very fortunate that nothing other than the carpet and some drywall was damaged. All of our belongings that were in our basement are now on your main floor. We are crowded or maybe we are cozy. Look at how I turned that from a negative statement to one that sounds pretty nice and actually comfortable. The point in me sharing this with you is that throughout this process I have been intentional on taking an approach of wonder. I wonder how much worse it could have gotten if I had not walked downstairs in the early morning hours when I did? I wonder how the experience could have been different had we not had the help of our neighbors? If my husband wasn’t able to remove the old sump pump and replace it with a functioning sump pump, I wonder who would have? Each of these questions of wonder has led me to feelings of gratitude. Sure, I could ask the question of - I wonder why this happened? Yet, that is a question that has an answer not privy to me yet. I do believe that the reason behind events is never clearly evident until much later as future circumstances unfold. I am curious to find out!
I taught a yoga class today and encouraged the students to be curious about how they might experience the poses differently than they may have in the past by turning their gaze from up to neutral or to the floor. I invited them to try the poses with their arms in different places or to see how the pose felt different when they used props. I guided them through wonder, being curious, and then pausing to see what they discovered.
“Alice in Wonderland” is a story of a young girl that falls into a rabbit hole. I’m sure we all have also used that expression. When you read something and what you read leads to a question, you then go in search of finding an answer to that question which may lead to another and then another. By the time you look up, you’re nowhere near familiar territory – or in Alice’s case, her home.
Can there be danger in wonder? Well of course. Isn’t there potential danger in life no matter your level of curiosity? I suppose there may be some parallels to those that are curious being less risk averse than those that are less curious.
Yet, like I told my students today in class - small, minor adjustments of where you look can have effects on your subtle body – that which resides deeper than your gross body, or flesh. What happens at a deeper level can have profound effects on your health and well-being. Being curious about your actions, investigating how foods effect you, different forms of exercise, what you consume in the form of visual and auditory media, as well as the company you keep, are all ways to invite wonder into your day-to-day choices.
Remember, there is more to the curious cat idiom than is usually stated. The second part changes the meaning entirely. The cat actually lives.