Rediscovering Awe and Wonder

Awe and wonder can easily be lost as we become adults – why? 

I remember distinctly how incredibly awed I felt the first time I was fortunate enough to visit an ancient Roman site in Europe. I’ve had a keen interest in ancient history for as long as I can remember, so when I took my first trip to Europe in 2005 I was determined to feed my passion. I spent countless hours at the British Museum and the Louvre, admiring pieces from thousands of years ago, and was thrilled to see the Rosetta Stone, even if it was encased in glass. However it wasn’t until we reached Lyon that I was hit in the face with true awe.

Lyon, France’s second city, is a beautiful town (albeit a bit rougher around the edges than Paris) with a long history. Built on the Fourvière hill overlooking the confluence of two rivers, it was originally a Roman settlement called Lugdunum. Nestled amongst the more modern buildings at the top of the Fourvière hill is an enormous Roman amphitheatre, and visitors are able to wander around the grounds which are littered with artefacts from the Roman settlement, including massive stone slabs featuring meticulously-chiselled inscriptions. And the best part for me is that I could walk amongst these ruins and touch everything. I was in heaven. You see, going to the British Museum and the Louvre were highlights for me however as a visitor (and as a decent human being) it’s required to behave yourself, so as much as I wanted to climb inside that giant Egyptian sarcophagus on display, I couldn’t. Yet here in Lyon, I could go nuts. I could run my hands over every rock and every carved word and feel the energy of history. Even now, I can still recall the amazing feelings of awe and wonder that I experienced in absorbing so much history.

As I was scrolling through a website the other day, something popped up about Lyon and the Fourvière Hill and it triggered my sense of awe again, so much so that I felt the need to dig out the photos on my computer and go through them in order to revisit that wonderful afternoon.

So why am I sharing this? Because I want to encourage everyone to make time in their lives to rediscover a sense of awe and wonder. When was the last time that something took your breath away? When was the last time that you were so in awe of something that it was almost overwhelming? When was the last time you allowed yourself to be caught up in the wonder of it all?

As we develop from childhood to adulthood, we seem to suppress our sense of awe and wonder. Why? Does seeing the beauty in something make us uncool? So what if it does? We live on a beautiful planet in an amazing universe, and there’s far more to see than the latest movie, far more to celebrate than the latest vacuous celebrity, far more to be amazed at than the latest piece of technology. Why shouldn’t we be seeing awe and wonder in the world around us? It makes you feel amazing, so why suppress it?

Consider what it is that makes you feel a sense of awe and wonder – that uplifting feeling that makes you feel connected with something bigger than yourself. Go out and watch a sunrise, take a walk in a nature reserve and notice the details, sit and watch your pet’s behaviour in detail for half an hour… anything. Just make time to rediscover awe!

What inspires awe and wonder in you? Leave a comment! 

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