Hi, I’m Mansi and I’m an addict.
“I have never experienced anything like that in my life; being in the presence of something so sublime. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to find the words to truly express it.” — Reflections on Dec 15th, 2015
A year ago today, something changed inside me. I became an addict.
The high was so deep, so powerful, so arresting, so… confusing.
Here I was, standing on a mountain ridge surrounded by a sea of rocky folds and ripples as far as the eye could see, and unable to stop sobbing like a little girl. “Dude why the hell are you crying so much,” my inner voice chided me. I was shocked and embarrassed at my reversion to 2-year-old-MJ-the-crybaby. I had no words.
I was tripping on awe.
Describing that feeling is a futile effort, as the brilliant author Eleanor Catton explains in her essay on New Zealand, The Land of the Long White Cloud:
“In fact I am sure that I never experienced, as a child, any kind of encounter with the sublime, that catch in the throat, that tightness of the lungs, that sudden, roaring sense of one’s extreme smallness in a huge, awful, beautiful world.
To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt. In such moments natural beauty becomes a kind of devastation — it is pure encounter, too compressed in time and space to be properly contained.”
Awe. It was the best damn drug ever.
I got more fixes here and there, watching the sun rise over Mt. Fitz Roy in Patagonia or trekking the Huayhuash circuit in Peru to name a few. I was lucky. I had a dealer named Mr. Sabbatical.
But Mr. Sabbatical wasn’t going to be around forever. I needed to figure out how to get my awe fix on my own, whenever, wherever.
Research confirms that awe creates feelings of a small self, or as I experienced, a sense of oneness with the vast, complex, harmonious universe around me. I remembered that feeling — that sheer sense of wonder, amazement, connection, mystery, and curiosity at the existence of being. And I realized…
Wait, that’s all I need!
There’s nothing preventing me from simply remembering it!
To think it, re-live it, to remind myself of my “extreme smallness in this huge, awful, beautiful world.” To allow myself to be two years old again and feel wonder towards anything and everything — how the trees grow, the wind blows, the breath flows, the crowds go, or the birds soar together in perfect harmony.
To stop, to observe, to be quiet. And in turn feel centered, grateful, alive.
The best part? It is 100% within my control. And yours too.
It can be hard. Hard to stop. Hard to be quiet. Hard to remember if you haven’t experienced it before. Hard to feel wonder if you’re trapped in a hell hole.
But if you believe that there is beauty in the simple existence of being, then congratulations you addict, you can get your awe fix, whenever, wherever.
If you’re interested in becoming an awe addict, drop me a note at email@example.com. Ideas be brewing :)