The moment you sit down and take it all in a lot happens. I'm not talking about the moment you take a break from doing something and then pick it back up again, but rather the moment you sit down and let the sun beat on your face with no particular place to go. No particular thoughts in your head. Yeah, that place.
I experienced this type of moment when I stepped on the train to go see my best friend. For four or so hours I was transported to a place I had forgotten. Familiar, yet so different. A place where I was invisible just for a little while.
Life moves fast and I tend to try to move just a bit faster. Afraid to let it get past me. Whatever that means. While watching the trees pass and the sun set I realized I felt a sense of wonder. I conduct my life in such a systematic way and because of that I forget the small wonders that often make life so much richer.
I think it's important for one to wonder. We are told to wonder as children, but somewhere between adolescence and adulthood it goes away- and for many never to return. For those who never lose it, we often admire them. We all know the person who sees life as one big adventure and makes everything they do look fun and interesting. The one person who is the very essence of cool. Yeah, that person. Lucky for me I call her my best friend. She often reminds me to slow down and wonder. And sometimes just wander because we don't do enough of that either.
The definition of wonder is "a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration caused by something unexpected, beautiful, unfamiliar, or inextricable." How often do we let ourselves be surprised? How often do we leave our expectations at the door? How often do we just wonder or let ourselves wander?
For me, I have a encyclopedia size book of expectations I often pack with me. Nothing surprises me and I don't have time to wander because I get anxiety with the thought of not knowing, but if I really stop and think about it, what do we REALLY know? Nothing. We know nothing.
This past weekend I visited Chicago. My best friend, her brother, and I wandered through the Windy City with no destination in mind. We waded through people and found our way to a social club, merchant's row, a block party, the art institute, a French market, the park, on a water taxi, and in a hipster suburb. Some of these places did not allow cameras and so I was forced to be in the moment and because of that I put down my encyclopedia of expectations. I was delightfully surprised in so many ways. The unfamiliarity I hate so much became pure joy.
I experienced Chicago in a way I never imagined I ever would. My best friend kept asking me if was I okay and I was. I was okay with not having a list of things I had to go see, do, touch, eat, or take a picture of. I was okay with not knowing where our next destination was. I was okay going off the beaten path. I was okay.
Although I was only there for really two full days, it has to be one of the best vacations of my life. (Any time spent with my best friend is like eating sparkly cupcakes with a unicorn because she is that magical. Her whole family is really.) The intent of this mini vacation was to relax and take time for myself. I did that. TO. THE. FULLEST. EXTENT. However, I never thought it would shift my perspective on how to live. I thought I was living until I visited my unicorn.
I learned to stop taking pictures of everything. It robs you of the moment. I learned to stop walking so fast, (I literally sprint everywhere.) because you miss the details. And the story is always in the details. I learned to not plan every aspect of every part of my day. Allow yourself a couple hours of the day where you make it up as you go. And I finally learned what the saying, "Not all who wander are lost" really means. I am grateful for the life lessons.
Today, I challenge you.
Go and find the place where you feel a sense of wonder. Go wander. Stay there if only for a little while, but return as often as you can. It's good for the soul.