Wonder in the rearview mirror

Airplane wing at sunsetI forget wonder.

Every stinkin’ day. I forget that it isn’t a stinkin’ day, but a glorious one. I just lose the ability to see it.

Work, busyness, over-familiarity – all these help crowd out my ability (and even my desire) to see wonder.

Lately, busyness has made me not even care about wonder or anything other than getting through this day, this week. But then, I step back for a brief moment – a rare quiet moment in this case on an airplane – and I become tangibly aware of the loss.

So what do you do when you miss wonder, either missing it as you miss an old friend or missing it like you just missed the chance to do something remarkable? You start looking. You intentionally pursue wonder. But how?

One way is to take a trip.

Travel helps us recover wonder for several reasons.

First, wonder occurs when we experience something new. You can’t beat travel for introducing novelty.

Second, travel reminds us that wonder matters. Distance from home increases our awareness that much of what means most to us in life is found in beauty, mystery and that longing for what we can’t explain.

Third, travel gets us out of both our comfort zones and our jaded complacency. We actually go looking for wonder on a trip instead of ignoring it as we do at home.

But what happens when you don’t have time for a trip or can’t afford one? I could say that you simply make time and take a trip, even if it is only minutes from your home. That does work, but here’s something else to consider.

Look forward and look back.

Looking forward means to anticipate the next trip you might have, even if that is weeks or months away. Dreaming about your next adventure is almost – almost – as much fun as experiencing it. Plus, it primes you to think about wonder. But what happens if you have no trip on the horizon?

You look back. Anticipation for a trip is valuable, but so is reflection on past ones. And the two are more related than you might think.

Over the next several entries, I’m going to use a trip I took two years ago as an example of how to find wonder in the rearview mirror, so to speak. The experience of doing this has helped rekindle for me a sense of wonder in the present, or at least the desire to pursue wonder more than I have.

Feeling dry? Uninspired? Tired, cynical and a bit grumpy? Wonder – or reflection – won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you put them in perspective.

Sometimes that’s all you need.


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