By: Deb Hargrove
Given that I hail from a tiny island nation at the bottom of the globe, I am somewhat accustomed to long haul travel. Despite the fact that I am possibly the world’s most motion-sick person (I have literally become nauseous from looking at a boat), and I used to have a deathly fear of flying, I would still get a frisson of excitement every time an air journey awaited me. The first reason (if you can believe it) was the tiny cute compartmentalised tray of food, and the second, was that I could choose from hundreds of movies and shows to watch at my leisure. I was, in fact, such a nerd that I would go online in preparation for my flight and plan out which shows would distract me from the horrifying reality of hurtling through the ether in a metal tube.
I made a trip home to New Zealand early last year, and after my little guy had fallen asleep, I got all prepared to find something great to watch. But you know what? I scrolled for a bit, and I really couldn’t find anything that took my fancy. I couldn’t be bothered watching anything and ended up just listening to my audiobook. What happened? Why had one of the only golden moments of flying been so dulled? One word. Netflix. My everyday life has changed to one where I can stream whatever I like, whenever I like. It’s totally lost its wonder. And that’s exactly what happens to all of us; when we begin to take something for granted, we lose our sense of wonder.
When we first moved into our house, I was rapturous with joy over owning our very own home. I was grateful for doors that opened and closed, a good-sized yard for the kiddos to play, the warmth of a furnace and a roof over my head. Fast-forward a few years and my eyes are drawn to every speck of dust, every splotch of spilled something on the carpet, and even though a large yard is appreciated, wouldn’t it be grand if it were landscaped?
If we let it, a sense of entitlement, mundanity or even busyness will rob us of the wonder that exists everywhere around us.
We take for granted the extraordinary convenience offered to us by our washing machines, dishwashers, dryers, and Amazon Prime (can I get an amen?). We take for granted the splendour of God’s creation, that changes with the seasons, and fills our waking moments with soul-restoring beauty. We take for granted even the things that are most precious to us – our spouses, kids, friends, and family. Once we start taking most of life for granted, we run the risk of living a colourless, stressed, dulled, and spark-free existence. Blurgh.
Once we’ve become entrenched in our beige existence, how do we begin to reawaken our sense of wonder? There is a small, underrated, yet extraordinarily powerful wee implement in our life-improvement toolbox – curiosity.
Certain things in life get lost in the shuffle of our fast-paced modern day; powerful and important things that we need to be intentional about engaging with. Curiosity is one of those beautiful things that can easily get drowned in the noise of family, children, jobs, social media, and all the other things that fill our time. Taking a moment to consciously engage with curiosity causes us to slow down; to stop, think and connect with our imagination. It also creates a new appreciation for what we have.
In recent Amazon-related ponderings, I have asked myself (and my longsuffering husband) questions like:
“I wonder if they use humans or a robot to pack the boxes?”
“I wonder who packed our box? Do they like their job?”
“How long does it take to pack the UPS truck in the right order so they can deliver the packages quickly?”
“What’s the UPS guy’s name? Does he have kiddos? Does he work more than one job? Is he harbouring a secret desire to be next darts champion on ESPN?”
Now, at first glance it might seem like these questions have little to do with an awakening sense of wonder, but consider; in my curiosity over who packed my box, I become aware that there’s another human out there that I have never met serving me in some small way. In that awareness, a small spark of gratitude for another fuels my sense of wonder at a world where there are endless tiny miracles, kindnesses and mysteries unfurling second by second.
So, my inquisitive friends, what banal thing you will develop a curiosity for today? What commonplace occurrence can you dig beneath and learn something new? Let’s invite colour and air into our souls as we begin to awaken a sense of awe in in the ordinary.