From Ordinary to Extraordinary: Reopening my eyes and heart to the wonder all around

I had a life-changing epiphany on a recent excursion in the comforts of my own house and surroundings.

It was a snow day. I bundled up and went outside to my backyard, something I usually avoid on cold or rainy days. Instead of the usual mind wandering, phone scrolling, or book reading, I was fully present and observing aimlessly. The trees stood out to me more vividly than ever before; I noticed and felt the details and intricacies in their trunks, branches, and leaves and how majestically they all came together. The Holly tree, with its dark green spiky leaves and its sheltered center that provides refuge for numerous little sparrows on rainy or windy days. The evergreen tree, its flat, soft leaves, and almost fake to touch. I marveled at how they had responded to the season - one had shed all its leaves, and others had somehow stayed evergreen. 

My attention was also similarly captivated by the moss and mushrooms that had grown on and around those trees, the charming wildflower meadow right across the street, my car of almost five years, patterns of snow on the ground - both real and imagined, the view of the valley and sunset from my house, the photos of my family and friends, the play of the lights and the shadows, the indoor plants and decor, the various notes in the songs that were playing, and believe it or not, my very own hands. 

I felt like a character living in a set. My regular world had opened up dramatically and felt so much more richer, abundant, and spacious.  I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of fascination and appreciation for their beauty, intricacy, mystery, history, and of how our lives had intertwined. I also felt sad and emotional about my own aloofness towards their presence, displeasure at times, and how I had simply taken them for granted. 

As babies and children, we experience life like this, always curious and fascinated. But as we grow older, we lose this sense of wonder almost entirely. Our brains become efficient at categorizing and normalizing everything around us, causing us to move through life indifferent or even irritable to the magic that surrounds us, busy chasing some distant and elusive source of success, joy, or wonder. 

My epiphany reminded me that we live in a wonderland. We'd see it, feel it, love it, and experience immense fulfillment if only we observe, be present, relate to everything with love, savor, and remind ourselves of how crazy and magical all of this is. 


[1] This lesson is similar to the one of Pixar's Soul (my review)

[2] I suspect nature has more of this effect than human-made things, as it is usually so much more intricate, historical, and mysterious.