Years and years ago, before Eat Pray Love became an abomination of a movie, I read the book and was generally impressed. One of my favorite passages said something about a Buddhist shrine (or some other such physical manifestation of spiritual belief) being the place where the people of a given town “kept their awe.” I loved that part of the book, the idea that there could be a container that could hold something as abstract as awe. Today’s #reverb10 prompt, in my mind, asks a similar question:
Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Beyond simply asking what made me feel a sense of wonder in 2010, I like that this prompt asks what measures I took to make sure that there is a healthy amount of wonder in my life. It’s not enough to notice something that awakens my sense of wonder– I (try to, at least) work to ensure that I’m creating a life for myself that at least occasionally provides me with an entirely new experience, something that takes my breath away, makes me curious, or just plain stuns me (in a good way, hopefully).
So, all right, enough stalling. How did I cultivate this sense of wonder in my life this year? Well, not to be repetitive in all my talk about travel…but really, it was mostly related to travel. Going to a new place, or even someplace I’ve visited before, fills me with wonder both about this new place as well as my home and familiar, everyday life. Traveling gives me a new perspective on the things that I often take for granted, and brings back a curiosity that I sometimes worry is disappearing as I creep closer and closer to being a Real Grownup.
Oh! Here is a non-travel-related thing that helps me maintain a sense of wonder: cooking. Food, really– it doesn’t have to be prepared by me, and in fact I sometimes prefer that it isn’t! After a good solid several years in which I have explored and expanded the boundaries of my cooking skills as well as new tastes, I am still working and able to experience such a huge sense of wonder as I watch things caramelize, reduce, rise, and come together in my oven, on my counter, and when presented to me in a new restaurant or cafc. When we were in London, for instance, we had this (completely insane and simple and delicious) meal that included an ox heart and watercress salad, pheasant with squash and kale, and grouse. Seriously, grouse. It seemed wonderful and like such a privilege to get to eat things that weren’t raised in feed lots, to be able to (actually, yes, truthfully) pick shot out of something and realize how much care can and should be put into food. Oh, and speaking of food…tonight is Official Birthday Dinner at the Chez Panisse café. I. Cannot. WAIT.