Here’s a simple test to apply to any story. Ask: “What is the risk?” What does the protagonist stand to lose if she does not get what she wants?*
Awe requires time, focus and effort, all of which we could be using for the thousand other things that need to be done. It feels risky.
People may well misunderstand and criticise when we want to take a little time aside and be present to something we are seeing or reading or thinking about, but we know something important about having time for awe.
Awe promises transcendence, the possibility of life itself being altered, and without which we may be left exactly where we are.
Robert McKee continues:
More specifically, what’s the worst thing that will happen to the protagonist if she does not achieve her desire? … For example, if the answer is “Should the protagonist fail, life would go back to normal,” this story is not worth telling. What the protagonist wants is of no real value.*
There are risks involved in opening ourselves to awe, but there are also, and possibly greater, risks when we do not.
Jonah Paquette offers us some ways to begin opening to awe: linger, slow down, connect with our senses, notice our breathing.
*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: How Risk Creates a Meaningful Story.