Saturday, January 12, 2013
A PATH WITH NO END
Wonder's like the two ends of a path—or maybe I should say like the point where you start out and another point somewhere along the way where you think you might end up. Let me explain:
Any time you go somewhere, meet someone, experience something or process an idea it's like setting out on a journey. Sometimes you know where you're going; sometimes you think you know but end up taking an alternate route; and sometimes—often this turns out to be the most fun—you just set out on the path and have no idea where it will lead.
This is the other end of wonder, the place where your conversation with your surroundings turns from asking to listening.
In any case, when you take off on this wonder journey, something in you is thinking, I wonder. At this point it's all about curiosity, intrigue, adventure. If you're in Nature, the conversation between you and your surroundings here involves mostly asking: What is that thing? How did it get here? How does it feel or smell? What's under it? Why did it just move? How does it experience me?
Maybe we could just call this end of the path wondering.
Okay? Now let's jump to the other end of the path. The first thing you need to understand about this place is that it doesn't exist, at least not in a linear-thinking, rational way. It's like heading for a point on the horizon; by the time you get there, you're headed for a new point on a new horizon.
So you have to decide for yourself when you've arrived. Most often the only way you know is when you experience something profound, a sense of being that seems to originate outside of yourself. This is the other end of wonder, the place where your conversation with your surroundings turns from asking to listening.
The wonder you've just experienced is no longer
a place on the path, but a place in your soul.
It's at this point that what might seem, semantically at least, a subtle distinction becomes quite pronounced. You've moved from wondering to experiencing wonder.
This is where you realize the spiritual meaning of wonder. And it's where you make a critical, albeit tacit, decision: what will I do with these feelings? It's here that most people seem to feel their transaction with Nature is complete. They've come; they've seen; they've experienced something that made them feel small.
But don't let your path of wonder end there; pick up these experiences and take them with you. In other words, the wonder you've just experienced is no longer a place on the path, but a place in your soul. For in fact, that's where it's been all along.
(Watch for the next post in the Why I Wonder series: Believing Is Seeing)