Pausing to Wonder at the Fuzziness

27 Mar

In the past few months I’ve been concerned that I’ve changed drastically….beyond recognition. Specifically that I’d lost my carefree sense of awe and wonder. It used to be that life was bursting at the seams with new and fascinating things to see and ponder. But lately all I could focus on was the mundane and drab. Topics that used to send me on an investigative roller coaster barely made me pause.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”      — Albert Einstein

I came across this quote a couple weeks ago and it made me depressed to consider just how long it had been since the last time I’d experienced the mysterious. But over the course of the last week I’ve began to reconsider the conclusions that these data points always seemed to inevitably lead me to: I’ve changed. I’ve lost my curiosity. I’m not the same visionary person I used to be. My best friend and I were chatting and she said maybe I was simply being too harsh on myself. From her perspective I haven’t changed that much and I still do get extremely excited and curious about certain topics. Instead she proposed what I’m really experiencing is a change in the frequency of these moments caused by an environment that isn’t as stimulating rather than in some fundamental change in my capacity to wonder.

This simple alternative perspective doesn’t change the facts but completely shifts the response. Instead of feeling disappointed and disenfranchised, I now had some control. If my homogeneous, unexciting environment was at least partially to blame then logically all I had to do was alter my environment to create more stimulation. While it will take time and trial to figure out exactly what makes me tick, at least now I am not assigning the blame internally. And you know, this past week has been better.

I went running a few Fridays ago  for the first time in 7 months. At first a sprained ankle kept me off and then the weather coupled by sluggishness. But Friday was such an unexpectedly beautiful afternoon that I couldn’t resist. Being outside, enjoying the weather, pushing myself physically, and discovering some new sites in the city as I ran has put me on a high that I’m still coasting on.

It’s been a good week and my energy has sustained, making me feel like this might be that turning point. The hump that everyone told me you just have to endure until, whenever you move to a new city and start a new chapter.

Number 28 on Neil Pasricha’s 1000 Awesome Things (so close to #1) countdown was All The Thing You Learned in Third Grade: dinosaurs, types of rocks, oral hygiene! The last paragraphs of the blog seem to capture everything there is to say about the world and my place in it right now…

“Yes, the world sure was simpler back in third grade. We started learning hard facts and clear rules that gave our lives hard edges and then colored them in. Names of planets, types of triangles, and the boiling point of water all added certainty in a fuzzy world. Of course, fuzziness comes back later on…when we realize we don’t know what’s farther than far, why things are this way, or where we really are. That’s because when the world straightens itself out … it all gets crooked again. When our minds seem settled and still …”

The nostalgia of a time of certainty in the midst of so much uncertainty had me feeling inadequate (and still does at times). I looked around and saw people moving forward while I felt stuck in the mud. But I think my little jaunt around the lake helped jostle my dormant sense of adventure for hibernation. Fuzziness I’ve decided is simply the jumping ground to even more discoveries, at least that’s the only way to look at the world at not go cross-eyed!

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