A Walk of Awe
After four great days of skiing with these two bundles of life last week, I had no assignments for Friday and Saturday. That should have been welcome news to a guy transitioning from an always-in-demand ski instructor to a guy who wants to work as a coach both on and off the snow and have time to ski for himself, but I found it kind of depressing. I guess identities are hard to let go of!
After trying to be excited and productive on Friday, I gave up and decided to walk up the hill behind where I’m staying below Verbier. The trail started straight up through fields and little barns improbably nestled into the steep hillside. Then it really got steep and became an ancient road “paved” with hundreds of thousands of rocks set into the dirt. The persistence, patience and back-breaking work that built this boggled my mind and left me in awe of what humans can do.
Eventually I veered off the road to follow a trail that contoured the slope. It led to another set of fields hung even higher on the hillside and to a barn where I spotted these guys. Intrigued, I climbed over the fence and sat down beside them. One of the ponies let me pet and scratch him, but mostly I just sat with them soaking up their calm and patient presence.
On my way home, I came across these crazy cows. What you can’t see is a pigmy goat darting back and forth behind them among a flock of sheep, causing all the lambs to run from one side of their enclosure to the other. Then the little goat would spring up onto a wall to survey its handiwork and then jump down to stir it up all over again when the lambs began to calm down. Hilarious! I returned to my lodging open, centered, and full of wonder and awe. As I walked into my studio, I realized I'd gone on an awe walk as recommended in Dacher Keltner new book Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. His book came from his studies "of the primary experience of awe in human life — moments when we have a sense of wonder, an experience of mystery, that transcends our understanding. These, it turns out, are as common in human life globally as they are measurably health-giving and immunity-boosting. They bring us together with others, again and again. They bring our nervous system and heartbeat and breath into sync — and even into sync with other bodies around us.” ~ from Kristi Tippet's introduction of Dacher on her podcast. His research and studies from many others show that pursuing awe is something to prioritize as we're wired for it and need in our daily lives to be healthy and whole. To find out more, listen to Kristi Tippet’s On Being podcast with Dacher and check out his book. Au revoir for now