Kevin Klein, author of the book “The Awe Factor” suggests taking an “awe” walk finding wonders along the way. I love that notion which implies noting and noticing our surroundings. I’m the kind of person whose thoughts intrude always–I obsess about things and let those “things” overtake me. “Clear your mind,” is an instruction that makes me laugh. However, walking on a sunny, spring day, and noticing what’s around me–that, I can do! And noticing nature, and fellow walkers, does clear my mind for a time. I can take a beat and acknowledge small things.
Our country road lacks sidewalks but is a harbor for wild plants including dandelions, honey suckle, creeping charlie, chickweed, and my personal favorites–white clover and yellow sorrel. None are really blooming yet, though I notice their tiny leaves protruding from the soil and the buds soon to open which inspire awe as I anticipate their coming. Anticipation of events keeps my optimism up. I can anticipate awe at the wonders of nature, and keep my eyes peeled for these plants on future walks. I recognize fellow walkers by their gaits. Even masked I notice smiles in their eyes as we greet each other. The dog walkers, the strollers, the power walkers, nod and wave and smile. Community awes me too.
There is an intersection of awe and happiness. One of my good friends suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and is in constant pain. One would never know it though. He is preternaturally happy, always ready with a quip or a funny story or comment. He’s is a man of deep faith and a joy to be around. When I am with him I laugh great belly laughs, and he joins me. He is generous with his time, volunteering to read aloud to children in our local elementary school. During the pandemic closures, he recorded readings online. He says that kids are awesome. I think he is awesome; acts of kindness create awe too.
I need to intentionally acknowledge awe and really acknowledge the wonders around me, not only on my morning walk, but in other small things too. Last week, I felt well enough to drive myself for the first time since my diagnosis. I drove to the street where we had owned a home in town 40 years ago and walked through the old neighborhood. Many changes had taken place including a new development behind the elementary school. There a web of meandering paths soon led me astray. I was lost in a cul-de-sac netherworld. My absence of a sense of direction is the subject of hilarity in my family. So, I did what I always do. I walked in the opposite direction to what my “sense” told me to do and found my way back to the main street. Awesome!