"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's a quote by Mary Oliver that I taped to my computer monitor. This morning, the word astonishment was a beacon to my eyes. Can we find something to be astonished at today in our, perhaps, mundane Friday? I am not astonished it is raining again but can I look for wonder in the pattern of a single raindrop landing upon the sidewalk?
Mary Oliver says "pay attention". My grandfather used to say "be curious". In yoga we translate this to "being present". Tell me something that brings wonderment to your soul today. One definition of astonishment is wonder. For me, "wonder" links to open-eyed unbiased childlike amazement with everything. I remember when Sam was two and we were driving home she pointed out the fabulous sunset in the sky and said, "I want to paint that." My grandfather was so amazed, astonished, awed that she had said that. As time would tell, Sam is the creative wonder in our house whether it is with pen, makeup brush, hair color, music.
Wislawa Szymborska's poem Astonishment as translated from Polish:
"Why to excess then in one single person?
This one not that? And why am I here?
On a day that’s a Tuesday? In a house not a nest?
In skin not in scales? With a face not a leaf?
Why only once in my very own person?
Precisely on earth? Under this little star?
After so many eras of not being here?
In spite of seas of all these dates and fates,
these cells, celestials and coelenterates?
What is it really that made me appear
neither an inch nor half a globe too far,
neither a minute nor aeons too early?
What made me fill myself with me so squarely?
Why am I staring now into the dark
and muttering this unending monologue
just like the growling thing we call a dog?"
In this poem, Wislawa asks a myriad of questions that really don't have answers. That's the best part of wonderment; we can just appreciate and be without over thinking the how and why. We allow ourselves to be present in astonishment.
Wonder the possibilities in your yoga practice. How today the hands might find each other in a bind when yesterday they seemed miles away. How the toes know to grip down when we lift a leg to balance. How child's pose allows us a place to hover away from the thoughts of the mind.
"The wise man is astonished by anything." Andre Gide