A letter about Awe
Last night, as I was driving back from the gym, the moon which is in its disseminating phase, still looked full. She was clearly visible in the sky and was the most beautiful colour. Very similar to the colour in the picture above, an orange glow. It was spectacular. The moon, sunsets, and sunrises, all fill me with quiet joy.
Someone asked me recently, what is my fascination with the moon. I struggled to answer. I wondered to myself, what is it that draws me? Then when I saw it last night, I realised that it fills me with awe. If I can see it in the sky, my eyes are drawn to it. If I am honest, I really struggle to understand anyone who isn't also drawn to it when it is visible in the sky. Whilst also recognising that we are all different. However, I constantly urge people to ‘go look a the moon!’. Haha!
One of the most memorable moments from a trip to Thailand is standing with my friend looking out at the moon over the sea, and the reflection of that moon on the sea. We imagined climbing up that reflection, which looked like a ladder, to the moon. And the fact that this is so memorable is very amusing as I was still drinking at that time and that night is a fuzzy one, and yet the image of that moon is so clear in my head. In fact, it is so clear that I could have sworn I had the actual photo, but I just looked for it and I couldn't find it. I have found one similar to what is in my head though, it looks like this (without the person on the paddle board):
Awe has been shown in research to help heal. On an instinctive level, even before digging into the data, I completely understand this. I have touched on this before after reading Victor Frankl's book 'Man's Search for Meaning', where he describes the transformative power of a sunset. As the news shows us more and more stories of desperate situations for people around the globe, it is easy to slip into despair. Frankl's story teaches us that even when we are going through our darkest times if we can hold on to hope and fragments of beauty, it helps us climb out of the darkness.
Awe can help us zoom out and take in a fresh perspective on our lives. When you feel overwhelmed, try to take yourself up in a magical hot air balloon, until you can see houses retreating in the distance. Fly higher until you're looking down on your village/town/county. Fly higher until you can see the country, the planet, and the universe. And just take in the magnitude of everything for a moment.
Another thing to try is to get still and quiet and take yourself back to a moment where you experienced a moment of beauty. It could be a memory of a trip, a piece of music, a favourite artwork, or a moment when you saw someone do something beautiful and special for someone else. Whatever it is that takes your breath away, try taking yourself back to that moment for a few minutes.
If you're going through something tough or challenging there is a lot to be said about quiet awe. You don't have to go away on a trip of a lifetime (although if you are - amazing - enjoy!) but you can just get still and appreciate the beauty of the stars on a clear night, the moonrise, an ombre sky in the evening as you drive back from work. Trips of a lifetime are amazing, but they are a small percentage of your life. If you can find the awe in something that happens every day, like the sun coming up or going down, you are a good way to the peace that you seek. Even if that moment of peace is fleeting. Remember, this too shall pass.