I’ve been contemplating playfulness and wonder.
It’s partly because I’m offering a seven session workshop around the ‘spirit of words’ and I know that in a learning environment the qualities that serve us best are our capacity to play and our willingness to enter the realm of wonder.
To focus on playfulness can feel a little trivial in the middle of a pandemic with the threats of climate change and earthly sustainability ranged around us. Yet in my experience, if I lose my sense of humour and curiosity, the world and I feel doomed.
Marooned in earnestness or outrage, my creativity dries up and from that alienated place, I can’t help myself or anyone else.
It’s easy to feel wonder when I watch thornbills flit through the undergrowth, admire the transparent pink of grevillea blossom in the garden, or the rainbow arching above the supermarket carpark. It’s more difficult to insist that wonder turns up or allow myself time for it to come seeping in. It takes devotion and patience. I have to move past the ‘blah’ of feeling sick of myself – my habits, ideas and thoughts, the ones that I have been tussling with for years, the ones that are taking me nowhere. I have to be willing to let those subside so something new can emerge.
About seven years ago, I spent a month on a tiny local pilgrimage, walking creekside paths in my part of Melbourne. Each day, I chose a path, sometimes re-taking familiar tracks as well as venturing to places I had never visited. It was a daily game of opening the Melways street directory and choosing one of the red dashed paths beside a creek, finding my way there and back usually by public transport and walking for a few hours of wonder in between.
Walking the Tarralla Creek trail, past eucalypts and acacias, alert to the sounds of eastern rosellas and the occasional glimpse of a white faced heron, I had a sudden image of myself as a small cell in the great body of the earth. I could see myself passing through a vessel, performing my own tiny role. Tiny but not insignificant. I dropped my bundles of impatience and longing, loosened the threads of my inadequacy and let wonder in.
It was a humbling experience and one I summon up when I’m feeling jaded.
Wonder and play are antidotes which let in unlimited potential. It is always there but we can’t always feel or see or touch it. Seeing ourselves and our roles in the world with playful seriousness creates a particular kind of enchantment. We can engage with whatever we are doing with a breadth of understanding which welcomes the numinous. We find ourselves saying, writing, creating and exploring things we didn’t know before. Things I like to think, which the world is longing to welcome.
And take time to let wonder find you wherever you are in this Southern hemisphere winter.