Since I’ve been home for a few weeks following my writing retreat, I haven’t been writing much. And I’m thinking that my decreased production has more to do with a lack of wonderment in my life rather the excuses I would normally provide: family illnesses, the trenches of a fulltime job, and yes, even the gray NE Ohio weather. In other words, I’m just too busy, too distracted to write because there is too much other stuff going on in my life. But the truth is I wonder if my writing life has been dampened because my “wonder” life has been flat.
Have a gentle curiosity, my writing mentor said to me earlier this month, encouraging a daily dose of wonder, spooning it into my life and, consequently, into my writing. Away from home, this was easy-peasy. The natural world surrounding my little cabin provided more wonder than I could handle at times. But at home, it’s been downright difficult.
Why is cultivating wonder so crucial to my writing? It’s a hard question to answer with words, other than to say experiencing wonder expands my curiosity, my inquisitiveness about all things, and sparks my creativity, thus strengthening/driving my writing. Then there are the deeper soul and spirit benefits of wonder that I feel indirectly nurture my writing as well–a sense of calmness, playfulness, wholeheartedness, and real joy. The bottom line? I’m a happier, more joy-filled person with moments of wonder in my life. Surely, acknowledging wonder must lead to a release of endorphins.
So what’s a wonder-less woman to do?
Cultivate wonderment in new and intentional ways, emphasis on intentional. Perhaps it’s akin to looking out a different window, Instead of having the wonder wash over me as it did on the retreat, I’m now having to work at it, to dig beyond the daily stress, even to set it aside, and in order to root for that shiny pebble.
One such example of wonder I’ve unearthed recently was this. My father-in-law underwent major abdominal surgery for cancer a week or so ago. Much, much stress. After we met with the surgeon, all I could think of was how marvelous the human body is, that it can take the insult and disruption, the plunging of man’s hands and instruments into its cavities, and then miraculously manage to heal itself (albeit, with sutures and good drugs) back together again. He’s now home and healing well.
An even simpler wonder example happened while driving to work (late again!) when I noticed the sunlight reflecting off frosted dead ditch grasses. The ditch never looked so good with each blade dazzling. I slowed down.
Wonder requires the time and intention to slow down, to notice. But the pay off for me is that finding wonder often leads to finding gratitude, and that’s how I want to spend my life–grateful for time away, for time home, for a time to work, for time to spend with family and friends, and for time to be alone. For every season there is a time and a purpose under heaven, or so the writer of Ecclesiastes says. But this would mean that there are times to write, and times not to write. And that both are OK. The field needs to lay fallow before it can yield its riches.
So, I’m curious. How does wonder work in your life? Do you feel it inspires your writing creativity? I’ve love to hear your stories.
Thanks for wondering and wandering in the wilderness with me,