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  • Jennie Antolak

I Wonder as I Wander

by Tirzah Marie Lewis, ACC

As a coach I sometimes hear people tell me in hushed tones how when they were a child there was no limit to their imagination. In equally hushed tones I gently lean forward and ask, “what happened?” This is one of those - answers may vary sort of questions but the responses I receive have a few similar themes. Popular answers include: “Oh well, I grew up” and “you know life happened.” These statements are true, but I wonder what made them hang on to the delight of imagining enough to whisper it softly to a nearly complete stranger? What pulls them toward the past memory so that they pour out this confession in tones of hushed reverence flavored with rueful droplets of regret?

When I was a child, I too wondered about all kinds of things. Beautiful, time flying irrational things. When my parents told me that I had to rake the leaves in the backyard I wondered if we were all really even here or if we were just tiny objects that lived on the head of a great giant! Our houses and cars were great big bows and barrettes in the giant’s, hair and when I raked the leaves - I was combing it. My unfettered ponderance got me through many hours of raking leaves. And yet as an adult I too have leaned less and less into my wandering mind.

What keeps us away?

First: We have been taught that our wandering inside of our wondering mind is dangerous.

Wandering will lead us to a path of destruction- full stop. But what if it doesn’t? What if it opens us up to deliverance? I love the fact that inside of the Learning Journey’s coaching process we first look into our values and how they are at play in our lives. (Literal play not fancy-schmancy euphemistic 10-dollar when a five-cent word will do kind of play.) With that knowledge we give ourselves our own personal play area in which we may wander freely. We may wander far and wide or take a tiny shovel and dig deep into the depths of our understanding, but we can do so because we know what we already hold dear. We will not lose that if we get lost indeed the relationships of our values to our discoveries is what can bring us truly home – but the explorer that sits on the side of the sandbox goes nowhere and finds no treasures.

Second: We assume wandering is a waste.

I once got a plaque for my cubicle that said, “Not all who meander are lost”. We all know that progress is not linear and straight so why do we keep up the pretense? I wonder what we are losing when we do? What if the perfect partner, opportunity, idea, or instruction for what you’re struggling with right now – today, is on the zig-zag periphery of your narrowly defined path? What will get you there – what will guide you is whole-hearted wandering up, down, side to side, in and out. Then on your journey - revisits become places of curiosity and openings for insight, side-steps reveal things never before seen or conceived, spirals acclimate you to excitement while strengthening fortitude and proving resilience to one’s own self. The reality is twofold: The path never disappears because you have wandered, that through line is still there (however there may be a more, true line parallel to it.) This is the way the journey presents itself anyway – it’s just a whole lot more enjoyable when we embrace it!

Here’s the truth that I have found as I’ve lived. Wandering inside of wonder is the most natural thing to do. It’s a built-in setting that has taken many years for us to mute; but it is still here. Wonder calls to us constantly…and that sense of awe and admiration mingled with surprise at the unexpected beauty and inspiration of life is what waters the dry, scratchy and patchy places of our experience. These encounters are not far away, they are one committed swerve off the compacted dirt of the well-worn path; and what they reveal may be exactly what is needed to lift our broken spirits from those of weary travelers to the emerging heroes of our own adventures.

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