Walking back towards wonder - a manifesto


Vlad P. Glaveanu's book “Wonder: The extraordinary power of an ordinary experience” shows that wonder is made up of two things, an openness to other perspectives beyond our own, and our ability to dwell in the possibilities.  Glaveanu concludes, what wonder teaches is the acceptance of difference, to live with uncertainty and to embrace the unknown. That unknown may turnout to be more beautiful than anything we’ve contemplated so far. 


Nature, it seems is asking us hard questions just now, and probably will continue to do so into the foreseeable future by ramping up the amount of uncertainty in our lives. A reconnection to wonder maybe timely. I can’t help feel with so much environmental degradation and human suffering in the world that we left wonder behind along time ago. It seems time we went back to wonder. To dwell in new possibilities.


To me, Glaveanu’s version of wonder, and there are many others, feels like an invitation.


An invitation to be more open to possibilities. How might we behave towards others and our world with more wonder in it? Or, for me and my camera, what might our relationship be with our landscapes if we viewed them beyond just something to admire  or a resource to plunder?


Here are 10 takeaways adapted from Glaveanu’s book.


 1. Wonder makes you want to leap and jump with excitement, simply by being aware that a world full of possibilities, exists. 


2. Wonder is born when we encounter some aspect of the world or the world of another person. That is where wonder waits for us.


3. Wonder starts where our knowledge ends and we allow ourselves to dwell there.


4. Wonder only stays being wonder when we remain open to strangeness, to difference and to the unknown.


5. It’s a tightrope. It can be fleeting. Wonder keeps the person doing the wondering in a state of knowing and not knowing at the same time. It may end up being an ordinary experience or an extraordinary experience.


6. The magic of wonder is in the realisation that the world is full of different perspectives. Therefore any knowledge gained through wondering can only be the start, as there is always more to discover about ourselves and the world. To stop wondering or to not wonder, is to put up walls.


7. Certainty and knowing are the opposites of wonder.


8. Without wonder, our awareness and the exploration of what is possible will be limited and dismissed by our present world that prizes certainty above all else. 


9. Wondering will always take place as long as we are open and aware of differences in perspectives, that we get excited about them and try to explore them. But only for as long as uncertainty accompanies us. 


10. The only certainty wonder provides is that once we start to wonder about something, that something will look different.