An Adventurer’s Guide to Experiencing Awe with Your Kids

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The eclipse, in all its splendor, really lived up to the hype. My kid and I sprawled out on a blanket in the middle of a nearby golf course to view every precious moment. And with all the fanfare and weeks of searching for the right glasses, it was the tiny things that really made the moment spectacular…the crescents that reflected through the tree branches, the drop of temperature a few minutes before totality, the whir of crickets in the middle of the afternoon. But there was more. I noticed how, for a few hours, there was no magic that was less accessible to the grown ups. Not the color of skin, the money in our bank accounts, the language we spoke or our age separated us from fully being enveloped by the rare spectacle of the eclipse. For those precious moments, we were all tiny; we all shared the glory and goosebumps…we all stood in awe of the majesty of our spine tingling universe.

Lily Tomlin once said, “We’re thinking maybe the secrets about life we don’t understand are the ‘cosmic carrots’ in front of our noses that keep us going. So maybe we should stop trying to figure out the meaning of life and sit back and enjoy the mystery of life. The operative word here is what? Mystery! Not meaning.” I heard those words and a young adult, and wrote them down so I could remember to share mystery with my kid. I realized while lying on the blanket at that golf course, that mystery might just be the very most important gift I could share with my son. And strangely enough, it is by and large, free.

Awe comes loaded with more benefits than you might even imagine. Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.” In addition to the experience of deep beauty, cultivating the opportunity to experience awe provides a host of other gifts. Children (and adults) who experience awe show many signs of strengthened well being. Awe can expand creativity. It can give hope and help deepen appreciation for life and for one another. It can connect us to nature. Abraham Maslow once offered that “there might be something just a little magical about every day life. And with that little dose of magic, we get the invitation to experience life from a place of wonder, of joy, and with a deepened sense of gratitude.”

I plan to make Awe a regular activity on our adventure list.

Here is a short list of ideas to get your Awe-robics started.

Experience something celestial (Try a rainbow, a meteor shower, an eclipse)
Experience something ancient (Maybe a cave painting, a castle, or a piece of armor)
Explore something giant (Perhaps a mountain range, a forest of redwoods, or rocket ship)
Explore something tiny (How about an ant hill, a miniature collection or a molecular microscope)
Discover a natural wonder (Any of the famous 7 or a nearby waterfall, natural bridge or tide pool)
Discover a piece of unknown art (Take a peek in a museum, an antique store or stop along a scenic route while out for a drive)
Make a wish list (Write down and begin to visit points of awe you want to visit together-whether the Grand Canyon or the giant ice cream sundae down the street)
Make a pilgrimage (Take the time to travel to experience awe from time to time…whether to see a once in a lifetime concert, a visit to Graceland, or a trip to Roswell)
After the experience, remember to write it down. Add or draw pictures together of what you have seen but also write down how the experience of awe made you feel. Perhaps you could dedicate a family journal to your awe-robics and remember to talk and write about these experiences you want to remember forever.

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