Thursday, December 9, 2010

#Reverb10 catch-up: Moment & Wonder

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

Wow.  This is difficult.  And this is a bad time of year to ask me when I felt most alive since everything is grey, dark, and covered in ice and snow and feeling kinda dead right now….but hey, maybe that’s why they asked it – to remind us that there is life, it does come back, and winter is not the end.

I can’t think of one particular time at this moment, but I can say what experience I have on a regular basis (when weather permits) that makes me feel most alive:

going to the beach.

There’s a particular beach we like to go to here in Northern Ireland called Tyrella Beach that except in the height of summer season (July-August) is mostly empty.  It’s a wide, expansive swath of beach, but because of its location and the tides, the sand is usually that compacted texture – not the fluffy stuff that’s difficult to walk through.  Tyrella is on the edge of Dundrum bay, so the waves are small and overlooking the beach are little Irish cottages built upon the rocks and dunes.  To the east is a yellow and black striped lighthouse and to the west are the Mourne Mountains, topped with its highest peak, Slieve Donard.

Jim and I go there and take the dogs.  They run and play, chasing their red ball and exploring all the sights, smells and sounds that the tide brought in and left behind.  I hear their paws slapping in the water, Piggy’s collar tags jingling as she trots off to find goodies, and Cody and Luna play growling as they chase each other through the water.  We laugh and run with our girls, or walk quietly looking up to the mountains on the other side of the bay, holding each other’s warm and comforting hands and generally reveling in the loveliness of it all.  With the beach so empty most of the year, I feel like I am but a small, yet living and dependent, part of this huge organism that is Earth.  That me and my loved ones walk upon it, love and live here, as part of a larger whole.

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I’ve been thinking about this question for days, actually.  So there is a benefit to this catch-up business.

I really struggle with this, if I’m completely honest.  I mean REALLY.

My high need for intellectual stimulation, information, accuracy, control, efficiency and rational understanding makes wonder a very rare – and sometimes frightening – thing. 

To be in wonder is to be vulnerable.  And I don’t like vulnerability.  To be bowled over by something is to be out of control.  And I like to maintain control.  As a result, when I am struck by wonder, I am usually silent and still and I prefer to be alone.  It is very difficult for me to share that with someone else, most likely out of fear of looking like a fool.

Jim with seaweed on his head
I was struck by Krissie’s post on Questions for Dessert about her husband bringing wonder into her life.  If I’m honest, Jim probably plays that role for me when I let him – but again, if I’m honest, I rarely do.  When he exclaims, “Jayme!  Look at this!” I often take my time responding and then look up, am puzzled as to why he was so struck by it, say something equivalent to “That’s nice, dear,” and then go back to my own (most probably cerebral) task.  Jim dances around like Tigger, excited about the smallest things, singing songs he’s made up to me or the dogs, and generally being foolish (but in a good way).  Meanwhile, I work very hard at not disrupting the calm waters and rocking the boat, fearful of looking like a fool and showing irrational, unreasonable emotion.

So, this past year, I can’t say that I did cultivate a sense of wonder in my life.  And thinking about it now as I write this, that makes me sad.  It makes me realize that I don’t appreciate Jim’s sense of wonder as I should.  That my need for control and strength (instead of vulnerability) are weaknesses which keep me from enjoying life as I could do otherwise. 

Perhaps 2011 will be the year that, on top of everything else, I make an effort to work on that.


  1. perhaps in 2010 we can walk the beach with wonder in our pocket. we can gather small objects and look at their patterns. we can laugh and walk together, for a moment, unafraid of what another thinks... because we see each other.


    *love these posts!*