Recently I have read a few articles about the link between happiness and maintaining a sense of “wonder” about the world. The basic message is that experiencing life with wonder is a valuable way to promote one’s own happiness and satisfaction, reduce stress and calm anxiety. By looking outside ourselves with a sense of appreciation, awe and gratitude at the things in our lives — small and large — we can improve ourselves on the inside.
This resonates with me profoundly.
Just contemplating this topic brought to mind a list too long to share. For example, as much as I travel, I still feel a pleasing little rush when my plane lifts off the ground … there’s a sense of wonder that we humans figured out how to launch a big metal tube into the sky and bring it down safely again.
When I’m asked how I keep Sunday Baroque fresh week after week, even after hosting the national version of the program for 20 years (and the original local version of the program for 31 years total) the answer is always some variation on the theme of maintaining a sense of wonder. At the core is my enthusiasm for the music, the performers, and listeners like you. I relish finding new angles to choose and present the music and composers, I marvel at the artistry of the performers, and I’m gratified by the positive feedback from listeners in response to Sunday Baroque. This never gets “old” … I still have a sense of wonder about how remarkable it is to be sharing music on the radio and connecting with people in such deep and profound ways.
I recently traveled with a group of music lovers through Italy on a Sunday Baroque trip for a public radio station. Those travelers also had a sense of great wonder about the many delights we encountered: private concerts by outstanding young singers, a solo violin recital given on a priceless Stradivarius violin from the 17th century, guided tours of some of Italy’s most beautiful and historic cities, extraordinary regional foods, and so much more. We witnessed other visitors also expressing their sense of awe, their sense of wonder, and we felt connected.
There is something humanizing and satisfying about being able to recognize and appreciate something larger than oneself. To look up at Michelangelo’s statue of David and be awed. To hear, up close, the human voice producing glorious and pleasing sounds. It’s also gratifying to savor and appreciate the small wonders: tasting the tang of different varieties of balsamic vinegar, awakening to the sound of riotous birdsong in the morning, and even possessing the physical ability to get around. I relish these pleasures, large and small, and I unabashedly celebrate my continued sense of wonder about the world around me.
Maybe part of feeling a sense of wonder entails simply making the time to notice, to experience and to relish the things around us. Life goes by so quickly, that the simple act of stepping off the treadmill for a moment can feel like a great gift.
So my wish for you is to explore and celebrate your sense of wonder — about music, your surroundings, and life — and to share it with those around you!