I sometimes imagine my great-many-times-over grandfather, a caveman, leaving his cave one morning and seeing the rising sun for the very first time. Staring at this enormous fiery red globe way up in the sky, what does my ancestor think it is? Is it a god come to destroy?
Does my ancestor’s body shake with fear? Does he get ready to defend himself and his family? What does he feel? Is it fear? Terror? Is it wonderment, dread, reverence? Or is it an overwhelming mixture of them all?
I like to imagine that gradually our first mothers and fathers and their children begin to comprehend how wonderful a gift the sun is for them; how without any effort of their own it gives them life. I like to imagine them feeling a sense of awe.
I imagine them feeling awe about so many things in their existence, big things like the stars, the miracle of fire, the birth of their first child, but also little things like the laughter of a child, the wisdom of the elders; the healing of relationships after a dispute.
I ask myself if we also could do with more awe in our own lives in 2023 AD. Sure, in our everyday language, we regularly hear the word ‘awesome’ and its slang equivalents ‘cool’, ‘wicked’, ‘ace’ etc. but how much time do we take to appreciate truly the awesome things in our lives?
We also hear the word “awful” a lot. There are so many awful things going on today – big things like wars, cost of living crises, political failures, famines, homelessness and all the rest it is easy to get caught up in the distressing thoughts. Part of us would like to pretend that the awfulness doesn’t exist but we realise that running away from it doesn’t change it.
Perhaps a more effective way for changing things would be to spend time in awe. Taking the time to contemplate the truly awesome people and things around us could be a way to bring us peace, invigorate our overall well-being and clarify ways to make our world a better place.
We just need to open our eyes to look at the world differently.
Recently, I showed a Saudi Arabian friend around our beautiful area of South West Wales. As someone accustomed to the desert he marveled at the beauty of our coastline, the hills, and the greenery of our woodlands. “Do people who live here, appreciate all this beauty?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied, “most of us do. We love where we live”.
At one point we stopped beside a patch of bluebells. Choosing one single bluebell, we marveled at the delicate intricacy of its structure, its gentle colours and beauty, and spent a moment in quiet awe knowing that like the sun of our ancestors the bluebell was a gift freely offered to us, like a multitude of other things in our lives.
We have just got to know how to look.
Thomas Hillas Life Coach and Counsellor. Pendine 07986285242