It doesn’t seem to matter what time of the year it is, or what corner of the world we happen to be in, as global citizens we share a common practice. When it’s time for the greatest show on earth, we decidedly drop whatever we’re doing for a few moments and turn our attention to the sky, the horizon, or if we’re lucky, both. Whether the sun is rising or setting, for those few moments nothing feels as important as standing in awe of the ultimate light show.
We’ve all seen these crimson, tangerine hues before, perhaps hundreds and thousands of times - and yet it never gets old. Sometimes all we have to offer is a simple, “Wow!” before returning to whatever we were doing. Other times the wonder of it all takes us by the hand into self-reflection. Lost in awe at the magnitude of what we’re seeing, we feel humble and small in the scheme of things. Then, as the final sliver of light reveals itself, or falls out of sight, gratitude washes over us for the opportunity to stand witness to this moment.
I savour the moments I find myself in awe. In these moments time and trouble fade away, giving over to a sense of freedom, clarity and even simplicity about what’s truly important in this life. Gawd…who doesn’t want more of THAT? I know I do…
So, this begs the question - if I want more awe-worthy moments in my life, what’s awe-worthy? Sunrises, sunsets, jaw-dropping vistas, and the miracle of birth make the list, but are awe-worthy moments reserved for the big, grand events? If I want more, it’ll be important to find awe-worthy moments in my regular, old everyday life. And for that to happen, I’ll need to do two things;
- Put myself in the place of most potential. (I wish I could claim this little nugget of wisdom, but I borrowed it from Dewitt)
- Intentionally slow down long enough to see it.
Putting myself in the place of most potential isn’t just about physically being somewhere. It’s also about getting myself into an internal or mental state that’s open and receptive to the possibilities. If I’m closed off or preoccupied with something else I’ll never notice the awe-worthy moment, even if it’s unfolding right in front of me.
In terms of slowing down, I’m as guilty as the next guy for plowing through the day, racing from one detail to the next. My day begins with my first, glorious sip of coffee at 6:30 am, and then somehow the next time I look at the clock it’s 3pm. “Gah! And there’s still this, this, and THIS to do!”
We all know what happens next…I move even faster.
If awe-worthy moments are going to be a daily occurrence, it’s going to be up to me to intentionally make the time to step out of the race, and make room for those moments. Only when I slowdown will I see the colour, will I see the light, will I see the gesture, the shape, or the texture. I think that’s one of the things photography brings to the equation. Sure, we might not want to spend all of our moments looking through the lens, we’d miss some of the essence of the moments if we did. But the act of photography absolutely requires us to slow down to see what’s in front of us. And soon, if we make this a practice, the awe-worthy moments move from noticing what’s in front of us, to noticing what’s within us.
Dewitt starts out each day thinking about his seven wonders of his world. “Not the Taj Mahal. Not Machu Picchu”, he offers. “But the REAL seven wonders; to see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to touch, to laugh, to love. Those are the real seven wonders of my personal world.”
Most of us wake up every morning expecting our eyes, ears and nose to work. It’s just…normal, and it’s pretty easy to take what’s normal for granted. But when we put on the lens of celebration, and make the time to be in awe, it becomes easy to see our senses as blessings or miracles, each one worthy of our gratitude and celebration. And when we're washed in gratitude, in that moment - what we already have suddenly becomes enough.
Some things in life are beyond our control, but how we see the world isn't one of them. An 'awe-pause', small celebratory moments we deliberately make time for every single day that can bring us more freedom, clarity and even simplicity for what's really important in life. Who doesn't want more of that?