Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Okay, we’ve officially hit the point at which I start complaining about the awful gooshiness of these prompts. A sense of wonder? Really?
I do not think I have a sense of wonder, at least not in the starry-eyed sense in which I cannot help but read that phrase. It’s possible that there’s something antithetical to that kind of gawping amazement built into academic life. When confronted with surprise, a scholar will tend to speed right past wonder to analysis: What does it mean? Why did it happen? How should I understand this?
I refuse to think that’s a bad thing. In fact, the beauty part of the academic life may lie in that conversion of slack-jawed wonder into more focused wondering, pressing beyond the mystery to the questions it provokes. That doesn’t mean that we lose the “wow!” aspect of wonder, only that the exclamation point is replaced by a colon, and more thought ensues.
So, what am I doing to cultivate a sense of wondering in my life? I’m working really hard on trying not to have all the answers in my writing and research, but instead to remain open to new questions, so that I don’t miss the moment of surprise that might lead me in a new direction.