Awe is the moment when ego surrenders to wonder. This is our inheritance – the beauty before us. We cry. We cry out. There is nothing sentimental about facing the desert bear. It is terrifying beauty.*
(Terry Tempest Williams)
You are only as good as the love you have for other people. […] We are only as much as what we can give to others.**
Monica Hardy encourages me to:
“Notice, dream, connect, do.”^
To notice, to step out of the normal into the unnoticed excites our generative souls, stimulates our imagination and innovativeness, and we turn what we notice into what we are able to give to the other, even if it is simply to draw their attention to what we have seen and perhaps they have not. Nassim Taleb counsels us in this direction in his inimitable style:
‘What fools call “waiting time” is most often the best investment.’^^
To notice, to feel, to care, to know. In this vast universe, we’re such tiny creatures and yet there is within us such powerful things.
T. S. Eliot asks,
“Dare I disturb the universe?”*^
Dare we even look?
It is where Williams takes her violent mind:
‘To care is to lament. […] The grasses I am weaving together remove me from my mind, my terrible, violent, creative mind. The storm brewing inside me is passing. I have made a small mat of grass as a resting place for larks. In wilderness, we are defined by the body, not the mind.’*
Unlike Williams, I am not in the Gates of the Artic National Park in Alaska, but in a city, being reminded by the weeds (that ought to be, plants) breaking through the pavement that the wildness will be here after I am long gone.
This isn’t a threat but a pressure-release.
In the city, surrounded by human invention, I feel myself an expert needing to deliver, but the plant underneath my feet reminds me that I am really, and always will be, an amateur, one who loves. Richard Sennett may be thinking of people of craft but his words speak well here when we are thinking more widely about our species and the Other:
‘Closer to modern times, the amateur gradually lost ground, especially with the dawn of the Industrial Age – the amateur’s foraging curiosity seeming of lesser value than specialised knowledge.’^*
There are many egos living within us, and the wildness challenges each: personal, national, political, religious, economic, to name a few.
Egos struggle to survive in wild places, where the eyes that are watching us are not human:
‘I return to the wilderness to remember what I have forgotten, that the world can be wholesome and beautiful, and the harmony and integrity of ecosystems at peace is a mirror to what we have lost.’*
We step into the wonder and awe that is not only without but within each person.
(*From Terry Tempest Williams’ The Hour of Land – my price read for this month.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: Empathic compassion.)
(^Monica Hardy, quoted in Seth Godin’s What to Do When it’s Your Turn.)
(^^From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(*^T. S. Eliot, quoted in 99U’s Make Your Mark.)
(^*From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)