Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How Does One Regain One's Sense of Wonder?

Is it just will-power? Conscious effort? Slowing down, smelling the roses?

Chesterton had the ability to wonder at all of life, and I'm just wondering, how do we regain that child-like, that Chesterton-like sense of wonder?


  1. Go listen to late Beethoven.

  2. Maybe we can regain that childlike wonder by being more like children. Next time you're doing something, ask "What would a child filled with wonder at everything do?" and then go do that.

    I don't know...perhaps anything to stimulate our imagination would get us a bit closer.

  3. I think this is a serious question and shall undertake it tomorrow in my weekly post, since I have a lot to say about it.

    In the time being, I suggest you get out CW14 and read "A Crazy Tale" (pp. 69-75] which will do you very much good. It's sort of your own personal and portable - er - perhaps we might call it "extract of Innocent Smith" - taken regularly it should make you a Man Alive.

    Note that I here use the term "Man" in its inclusive sense. Don't make me come there and throw a picnic on your roof with my six colours of wine...

  4. Also, I would be interested not only in what we should do, but what we shouldn't do. Are there certain things we do that push that sense of wonder farther away?

  5. Nick: Good point. I've often thought that those who keep themselves unnecessarily busy all the time are trying somehow to avoid the wonder of life. Being overly-busy, it seems to me, would work against retaining a sense of wonder.

    What else can you think of that works against wonder?

  6. Excellent story, Dr. Thursday, thank you for telling us about that. As I don't own CW14, I did a search for the story by its name, and found it on line. I've just read it. It's absolutely marvelous, and tells us a lot about Chesterton, and ourselves.

  7. Nancy, I hadn't thought of business (or busy-ness) would seem to fit the bill rather well. Perhaps too overindulgence in the passions can encourage a certain imaginative laziness as well. I'm just not sure. It'd be helpful to have something concrete in my head so that next time I'm walking along ignoring the world around me, I can remind myself to stop.

  8. It's not what necessarily occurs to one, but I think it has most to do with the difference between pride and humility. my favorite GKC quote is this: "One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has uttered something stupendously direct and important and that that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance."

    But what can you do? I don't know if you can do anything. Like everything else, really, it's a gift. I have felt the wonder and I've not felt it, but I don't know how I have or have not steered my way to it. Yeah, really, it's a gift.

  9. Think about something that you really really want to do and never dare to so far, and kick yourself in the but to start preparing for doing it

  10. I too have thought about this. I think part of the problem has to do with modernity's lack of understanding about leisure? What properly is leisure? A good study of this is Josef Pieper's book, Leisure: The Basis of Culture. This was most instructive for me.

  11. I'm a bit behind in my blog reading, but I think an important part of the answer (a starting point, really) is good liturgy.

  12. I believe Tommy, Nick and Nancy are getting close. It seems to me that to be childlike is a discipline, as Nick may be suggesting. A discipline that requires maintenance and balance of many factors, including humility and pride. In pride, thinking ourselves wise to help ourselves we make ourselves too busy and miss the point: I believe we all feel this at times, missing the point that is.

    As we grow older and life tending to lend good and bad experiences, fantasy is eroded as well as imagination. In some cases this is quite good, in others it's a loss of our joy and humanity to practicality and the mechanics of living... aka life looses it's colour.

    Though I believe a childlike wonder IS truly a gift. I also believe we all have this gift to protect and nurture within us.

    As Nick mentions, I do believe there are things we can do to encourage our wonder, as well as deaden our wonder.

    Think of children for a moment. When are they the most happy, creative and filled with wonder? Though it's true every day has something new, for us we've seen a bicycle before and understand it's mechanics. Setting aside wonder in connection to newness though; When are children most open, flamboyant and filled with expressive wonder?

    I believe a sense of safety or similarly an ignorance of danger is important. We can definitely control that a bit in our lives, making decisions to secure a safer environment for ourselves: change of job, neighborhood and so on. We can also control our ignorance and knowledge base.

    I'm not saying we should have our head in the sand, altogether. I'm saying part of the practical of what we can do for ourselves is regulate inputs as much as possible.

    I just learned that Canada in 2012 is rated the 2nd happiest country in the world. Yet, here in Canada there's still a struggle for childlike wonder. Is it possibly that we constantly hear about trouble elsewhere, that we are over stimulated to practicality? Certainly there's a place for creativity? Certainly 100% of the culture does not have to be on alert 100% of the time.

    I've also learned recently that certain architecture can promote creativity or kill it. Colours and interior design can also promote certain moods.

    In a nutshell, what I'm saying is that there are certainly ways to recapture. Actually, recapture seems like a wrong word to use now. Cultivate, ways to cultivate and coax our inner wonder, creativity and life expression to the surface.

    Where do you feel safest to be you? Are you around people that you can be yourself around and still love who you are? I think these are key. In part we can control many factors, but even so; an emerging harmony and ready tilled earth are only the beginning of making possible the issues of wonder and who we are at our core.

    Sorry, getting a bit poetic in my language. (ahem) And these are just my thoughts on the topic. I just thought to explore it today and found this thread. Back to the words. =] Wonder...

    I don't think it has to be an elaborate or elitist change in our lives. As I write I'm getting pictures of grandiose architecture, manicured lawns in my head. One may find the same creative inspiration and ability to wonder at a lake, or family ranch.

    I do believe there's a discipline though, to maintaining and nurture our ability to wonder.

    Also, separating wonder from exploration is also unwise. Whatever we do to create for ourselves conducive lives, those efforts should also be aimed at further exploration.

    Plus, it just occurred to me that wonder can be contagious, like laughter. One may realize the joke and others pass over it. When the one starts laughing.. or in our case wondering, the others pause to figure out what's so amazing. My advice in light of this is to get around others who are also exploring. =]

    Take what you will from this. I hope it helps you maneuver to a place of wonder, rather than just waiting for life to by chance be wonderful.


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