“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement … get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
One of my Facebook friends recently posted a link to a YouTube video of a flash mob that grew over the course of the performance into a full orchestra (including timpanis!) and choir. I love watching videos of flash mobs like this one as much to watch the reactions of the surprised audience as to hear the quality of the performance.
As with many of these that I watch, I am struck by the number of adults who exhibit little expression even though they may stay to watch and listen to the performers. I do see a few people smiling, and there is one gentleman at about the 4 minute mark whose whole face lights up with delight and clearly mouths an amazed “Wow!” as he arrives on the scene, but there is much less reaction than I would expect from suddenly finding a full orchestra and choir doing an impromptu performance in the middle of a public space.
The children, of course, are a different story.
There are several who dance to the music and mimic conducting with full-body enthusiasm. My personal favorite is the little girl who climbs up a lamp-post for a better view and proceeds to conduct from that vantage point, her legs wrapped around the pole to hold her in place and her arms moving in time with the music. These children have not yet learned to take the world for granted. They still know how to be amazed and are not embarrassed to show it.
Somewhere along the way, most of us have learned that being amazed is uncool. As we grow up, we tend to take on the belief that only those who are naive and simple-minded can still be amazed at the world around us. The rest of us are too sophisticated for that.
As one who is admittedly rather naive and over-emotional (according to most people’s definitions anyway), I often get a scornful response when I forget to hide my sense of wonder and amazement at some new thing I’ve learned or discovered. It doesn’t help that I am often a bit behind the times when it comes to the news, so I am often rejoicing or amazed at some piece of news that everyone around me has already heard. So I, too, have learned to hide those reactions when in public. I save my rejoicing and wonder for my moments alone.
But what a shame it is that we work so hard to stamp that out of ourselves and those around us! We lose so much by working to eliminate that level of appreciation and delight from our lives. Imagine what it would be like to experience the wonders of our world anew each day with the spirit of wonder and curiosity that children bring to each moment.
I want to be more like the young girl who climbed the lamp-post than the adults who listened without expression. I want to cultivate anew that sense of wonder and amazement at the world around me. In time, I might even grow brave enough to let that show in public no matter who reacts with scorn at my delight, but for now I am content to renew my commitment to finding and valuing wonder and amazement.
Will you join me? What in your life could stand to be treated with a fresh sense of wonder today?
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