open up and say AWE

by wendi

*pardon the long absence. I’ve been distracted by…life.

Spokane River

Spokane River

flow like a river

When I was a kid, I used to spend entire days wandering the riverbank near our family home. The allure of the river and all that surrounded it called to me on a daily basis, and there was no end to the wonderment that I experienced once I crossed River Road. Even without knowing the names of the trees, the brush, the birds, the wildflowers, I knew they were a central part of who I was, and I knew that I was more myself when I was in that part of my world.

Beginning in the early spring, I took to the terrain surrounding the river like a true explorer, ripping off my shoes (and sometimes more) and padding through the thickets without any worry about what anyone thought. I delighted when the spring runoff caused the water to rise, creating secret lagoons where I pretended the cottonwood and alder trees were the canopy of a Louisiana swamp. I hid in the grass, ran through the fields, jumped over horse droppings, and sang at the top of my lungs. To this day, the blossoms of red osier dogwood and the tender toughness of buttercups and bluebells enchant me. And to this day, I feel the pull to run barefoot over the earth while swinging my arms in wild abandon.

I wish I had a river so long. I would teach my feet to fly.
-Joni Mitchell

And yet I don’t do these things now. In fact, I rarely even walk my dog without my smart phone tucked into my pocket, because God forbid I see something spectacular that I miss for an Instagram shot. And what if someone tries to reach me by text? Or I want to casually glance at Facebook or Twitter, or to look at something interesting through the view of my phone, thinking about capturing an image rather than taking it in and tending to the experience that comes up when I look at beauty or witness nature?

Never, in my entire childhood, did I carry a camera to the river. I don’t even know that I owned one. I can’t imagine that I thought about what anyone else was doing, aside from whatever random friend or relative I managed to wrangle into what I considered my very own nature preserve. I simply entered into my experience fully and with all senses alive to whatever came my way. As an adult, this takes more intention and a willingness to pull away from the distractions and minutiae that so often pull away the possibility for moments of awe.

awakening AWE

The river and the area surrounding it represented where I found my “flow”; not for the way the river carried water or fish or water bugs, or for the way groups of children careened down the steep banks on inner tubes after a snow storm, but for the way I lost track of everything and entered into ‘effortless action’ when I was there. Now, as an adult, I recognize my need for more opportunities for flow, and, more importantly, for A.W.E.: (an acronym I made up while riding my bicycle) aesthetic wonderment experiences.

AWE’s don’t have to take a lot of time, and they certainly don’t have to be moments of spiritual awakening. They merely require an ability to awaken the senses to wonder (which may be easier without a computer, television or a smart phone nearby…). Moments of AWE are different for everyone and there are a bazillion opportunities for AWE for each individual. The only similarity is that all AWE moments are opportunities for letting go and experiencing what it is to be alive and connected in this world.

For me, these moments are most likely to occur when I’m outside. Maybe it’s in the garden, on the beach, riding my bike, stomping in puddles, or running with my dog. But they can also happen when my face is buried in my partner’s back while I listen to the heaviness of her sleeping breath or when I pause from looking at the computer screen to gaze out the window at a couple of birds frolicking in the tree. There aren’t rules. Just possibilities.

And that’s the beauty of it. AWE is available right now. And I firmly believe that AWE could save the world. Sort of an alternative version of ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’. Only in this case, no need for psychedelics. Turn on your intention, tune in to experience, drop out of the judging, thinking, worrying, craziness of life. Be. Here. Now.

3 Comments to “open up and say AWE”

  1. Wonderful post, Wendi, and such an important reminder. I just returned from France (where I had every intention of writing and blogging and did none). There, especially outside of Paris, I noticed how few people were talking on smart phones or even taking photographs with them (other than the tourists) of course. They sat in cafes and actually talked to one another or read books or merely people watched while eating their food and drinking the coffees. I plan to live more like the French now that I’ve returned. Wish me luck! :-)

  2. Welcome back, Wendi

dialogue is good- yes? comment here.

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