Wonder is one of my favorite states of being. Or is it a feeling? Brené Brown includes wonder in her lexicon of what she calls emotions and experiences in her book Atlas of the Heart. In the section on emotions and experiences about things that are beyond us, she includes both wonder and awe. She differentiates wonder from awe — another favorite feeling of mine — by describing awe as a wish to let shine, to acknowledge, and to unite, while wonder feels similar to awe but inspires in us a wish to understand.
I’m sure I use these words interchangeably; I revere both feelings and want more of them in my life. Probably because I love thinking and feeling about things that are beyond us. Wonder and awe are not feelings that can be forced, though I guess, are there any feelings that can be forced? Sometimes awe doesn’t happen even when faced with something awe-inspiring, like seeing the Milky Way in a velvet black sky or gazing up to the top of a towering redwood tree that’s seen 800 years of change; sometimes I’m not feeling it. I’m tired or distracted or just not in the mood.
Other times, though, wonder hits in the most mundane of moments. Like when I find tiny twigs and mosses tucked into my running shoe from a bird stashing treasures to make a nest in the spring. Or like when a read a perfect sentence or see a beautiful painting or what I felt when I watched Hamilton. Or like when a cat crawls onto my arms when I’m typing, nestles up against me until comfy, looks up into my face, and starts to purr.