As I’m writing this — it’s Sunday, Marathon Day in NYC and I can’t help but be filled with wonder! I have a friend from work, Brian, who is running the Marathon for the first time today. [YAY! – Go Brian!] I wonder how he is feeling right now, 1/2 excited; 1/2 nervous? I wonder if he was able to sleep last night because of the excitement. I wonder how many layers he is wearing. It’s 39 degrees now, but it’s supposed to climb to 60 degrees by the end of the race. I wonder, wonder, wonder….. Wonderment is like a tickle in your brain, that excites and stimulates curiosity. It’s kind of a cool emotional protein — it feeds your motivation and drive. If you have wonderment, hard things won’t feel so hard, because the curiosity of what is around the corner of that “new thing” you are doing, will drive you.
I’ve found that wonderment doesn’t come easily for some people. If this feels like you, don’t get down on yourself, I’m one of those people too. There are lots of us. I think it’s because we are overly practical. We see the world and engage with it in very practical way. If the garbage needs to go out, we schlep it out. I’ll sometimes count how many times I twist the bag before I tie it close. As I head out through the laundry room, I’ll check out if I need more laundry detergent – workin’ on my shopping list. I’ll check out how cluttered the garage is as I open the garage door to get to the garbage can. Multi-tasking. It’s practical. I’m busy. But the down side is that I’m not present. I’m not “there” in the moment taking out the garbage. The garbage might as well be outside already — I’ve moved on to the next 2-3 things. But when you deal with the world this way, you miss out on the opportunities of wonderment. For example, as I’m tying up the garbage bag, I missed the soft giggles from my daughters as they were sharing a funny video on YouTube with each other. I wonder what they were looking at, it seemed sooo funny? As I moved through the laundry room, our chocolate labs Jewel and Zoey were following me because they LOVE the laundry room (it’s where we keep their leashes.) I wonder why they love walking so much? And as I opened the garage door, the last bits of the sunset was happening in the fall evening sky. Pink, Orange, Blue, Black, all dramatically swirled and layered together. Wow, if that isn’t WONDERMENT, I don’t know what is.
So what’s the big deal if you don’t have wonderment? Well, it may not be a BIG deal, but we can miss out on an opportunity to fuel our drive, fuel our motivation, if we aren’t careful. Remember that day I was out walking in my neighborhood, and the 15-year-old gazelle (I mean girl) ran past me? I had a spark of wonderment that day. I wonder if I can run? But it was short-lived, because I let it slip into an old familiar emotional friend — DOUBT. “Nah, I can’t run…I’m barely walking and I’m beat!” Yup, that’s my old friend DOUBT. ” I can’t, That’s too hard, Maybe later, Maybe when I lose more weight” …… that’s all DOUBT.
So if wonderment is emotional protein, emotional fuel, then DOUBT is like the artery-clogging fat. It slows down progress. It stops motivation. It puts an end to that next great idea, and it keeps you on the couch. Yeah, there was room for both of us – DOUBT was on the couch with me pretty often.
So I’m not suggesting you go from No-to-Yes or from 0-to-60 right away. We practical, busy people sometimes can’t go from I CAN’T straight to I CAN. Why? Because we need proof, that’s why. And often, we spontaneously jump off the couch and let our motivation take us right out onto the street, and we run at our full force…for about 30 seconds and PROVE to ourselves that we can’t run. We tried and failed. There — that’s proof — I Can’t. [Can’t you just see DOUBT smiling over there on the couch!!]
So here’s an idea for today. Take it slower. Give yourself a stop over from DOUBT to WONDERMENT. It’s a gentler, curiosity-filled path. “I wonder if I could learn to run? Could I?” HA — Take that DOUBT ! That gentle question is like a bullet straight to the heart of DOUBT. “Could I?” This opening of your mind will lead you to the next step –> checking it out. Figuring out How and What you will need to be successful. Yup, setting yourself up for success. It might be as simple as buying your first pair of sneakers in a long long time, or getting a pedometer, or googling Couch-to-5K and printing the training schedule 🙂
The one thing WONDERMENT requires you to accept is this: Maybe you don’t know yourself as well as you think. Open your mind beyond the YOU you know yourself to be today. There may be a whole host of things that you might love and enjoy, but you’ve never let yourself wonder enough about trying to do them. Like salsa dancing, or swimming, or archery, or ….. running. Give yourself some room to leave your old ways behind you, forget your limits. Make the choice to stop saying I can’t. And choose to say I wonder if I could?
There is one thing I didn’t wonder today. And that’s IF Brian would finish the Marathon. Nope. I KNEW he would. Because with every one of the steps Brain took during those hundreds and hundreds of miles he ran in training — he stomped DOUBT down into the pavement. Nope, Brian ran all 26.2 miles in WONDERMENT. Of this I am certain.
Way to go Brian — I am amazed by you!
Ciao for now….Diane