wonder noun a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable
wonder verb desire or be curious to know something or feel doubt
For the past few years I have picked a “word of the year” for me to focus on and ground my intentions. In 2019 when I was on leave following Tori’s birth it was “home”. Auspiciously in 2020 it was “heart”. And last year for a variety of reasons I selected “whole”.
A few weeks ago, while reading Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart (2021), I knew instantly “wonder” was going to be my word for 2022.
Paired with “awe” and categorized under “Places We Go When It’s Beyond Us”, Brown explains “Wonder fuels our passion for exploration and learning.” (LOC 1038)
Brown quotes Rachel Carson’s wish in The Sense of Wonder:A Celebration of Nature for Parents and Children that a good fairy gift each child:
a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the source of our strength.Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Carson’s sense of wonder led her to write Silent Spring (1962) “a fable for tomorrow” which many consider to have inspired the modern environmental movement. You can hear more about her curiosity in the “For the Birds” episode of one of my favourite podcasts The Last Archive.
Between the climate crisis and the seemingly never-ending pandemic, I hope “wonder” as a noun and verb can be both a talisman and practice to protect me from disillusionment, and connect me to my sense of purpose. As I set my intentions for the new year, I want “wonder” to be central in all of my roles and identities as an art historian, leader, partner, mother, and community member.
In 2022 I want to be curious in the face of the unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable, because who knows what this year will bring.
Hopefully something beautiful.