Wonder and Cynicism

Too often I get wrapped up in my own cynicism and forget to experience wonder in the world. Wonder has the power to transform, but it’s a vulnerable space to inhabit. Earlier today I experienced my cynicism being transformed into wonder. It was simple but potent.

Sitting in my apartment taking a moment to breathe, I found myself zoning out and staring at a bag of charcoal that I left sitting on the floor. I noticed the warning on it said, “Warning: Do not burn indoors, releases carbon monoxide.” Now a few days earlier I noticed an all-natural grocery store was selling charcoal. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but as I read the warning on the package my cynical side immediately kicked in. “Ughhh… natural grocers, saving the planet? BS. You’re selling products that blatantly increase carbon emissions!” I should preface, I’m not an eco warrior by any means. But I do have a sore spot when I feel marketing is misleading or hypocritical. I honestly don’t care if natural grocery stores sell charcoal or not, but it engaged my inner cynic nonetheless.

I sat there a moment longer staring at that package. Something different happened -that cynicism was unexpectedly transformed into wonder. Looking at the illustration of hot coals printed on the paper sack caused my thoughts to wander to old steam engines and the way trains and railroads connected the world. That lead to thoughts of how coal-burning engines paved the way for the combustion engines that exist in every car, truck, motorized lawn mower, and piece of heavy construction equipment. Humanity has learned so much and come so far!

No matter where you go, you can hear a negative message about climate change and how we are destroying the planet. It’s indeed bad news. But I can’t help but consider what power it would bring if we didn’t function from such negative perspectives like this in our lives but rather experienced the wonder and appreciation for this life. What if we could see all we’ve accomplished thus far as stepping-stones to what else we have the potential to accomplish.

Living life rooted in a sense of wonder is a way of showing that you are all in. If you sit on the sidelines judging this life because you’re unhappy, you become a doomsayer that cannot imagine a better future and is not participating in the present. But if you’re participating in life and letting it affect you, you can take up the gauntlet of a cause you care about and wonder allows you to appreciate the journey that has led you or the world to this point and see the possibility of what could be.

Wonder and vulnerability have the power to heal the heart as well as heal the world.

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