How many greater things

Kidsbeach

We shall see but little way if we require to understand what we see.  How few things can a man measure with the tape of his understanding!  How many greater things might he be seeing in the meanwhile.   – Thoreau

For as long as I can remember, I have been literal.  I have almost always wanted with a fervor bordering on desperation to control, categorize, and to understand.  I am the child of a physicist and engineer, remember.

And yet that has been changing.  Years have given me perspective, and now I can look back through the lens of time.  The arc of my life is loftier, but also less clear.  I understand so much less than I used to.  But I also see so much more.  This can’t be a coincidence.  And the things that really capture my imagination are those which I understand the least: the sky, the passage of time, the capricious, unpredictable nature of memory.

A few years ago I asked my readers what this blog was about.  I still don’t have a good answer, when people ask me.  I hem and haw, stutter and stumble, coughing out some inarticulate paragraph about what it is to be in the world, to pay attention, to parent and live in a mindful way.  A succinct elevator speech it isn’t.

But I was fascinated by the answers I received from you.  One word came up over and over again, far more than any other: wonder.  And I do think that wonder is at the center of what it is I want – for myself but perhaps more importantly, for my children – in this life.  I want to help protect Grace and Whit’s capacity for wonder.  And isn’t wonder, at its core, the absolute opposite of logic and understanding?  At the very least, I am certain that true wonder requires the willingness to suspend our often-frantic need to comprehend and intellectualize our experience.

This must be connected to the fact that I am more and more intimate with doubt.  As I get older, I move further away from a ravenous desire to understand.  The not knowing at the center of our lives is immutable, I’m coming to see.  What we need to do is inhabit it, enfold it, learn to live with it.  Our human lives flow around some essential, unknowable truths, like a river around jagged rocks.  We can’t change the existence of those rocks.  So instead I am learning to love the glitter of the water’s drops as they bounce off of it.


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18 Comments

  1. Posted April 1, 2013 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    Your words are, of course, beautiful. But that picture is stunning.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! Easy to do with that raw material (I mean the beach, not the kids! :))

  2. Posted April 1, 2013 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I love the way you mull things over and question things. Funny but I never use the word ‘wonder’ but now tht I think about it, its a great one.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much – I really appreciate your saying that! xo

  3. Posted April 1, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Ahhh, yes. As the years go on, I, too, have become more and more familiar with the “not knowing” and way more comfortable in its presence.

    admin Reply:

    Me too … I’m pretty sure it’s not a deliberate thing, but rather something that’s come out of necessity, but at this point I don’t know if that matters. xox

  4. Posted April 1, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    If you can get your hands on a current (April) issue of The Sun magazine, you HAVE to read the interview. It’s with Philip Shepherd, who wrote a fascinating book about the difference between the brain in our heads, which rules logic and reason, and the one in our guts (there is a whole study of medicine, neurogastroenterology, dedicated to it) that rules our feelings and intuition. It gets to the heart of a lot of the things you are discussing here, about moving away from our heads and into our hearts, bodies and sensations. I know you’d love it.

    admin Reply:

    I will try to find it!! The article sounds fascinating. I haven’t heard of that branch of medicine before. Thank you so much for suggesting.

  5. Matt Russell
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I loved the post today. I have seen and lived the evolution. Wonderful picture of the kids. It captures the day.

  6. Katie
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Love this Lindsey… reminds me of a quote “Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child.” – Ron Wild. xo

    admin Reply:

    Katie,
    I haven’t ever heard that quote before. Perfect!!

  7. Posted April 1, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    YOU are a wonder. This blew me away:

    Certainly this seems connected with the fact that I am more and more intimate with doubt. As I get older, I move further away from a ravenous desire to understand. The not knowing at the center of our lives is immutable, I’m coming to see. What we need to do is inhabit it, enfold it, learn to live with it.

    Ah, doubt. I am only know beginning to learn how to live with it. What I really want to do is elbow it out.

    admin Reply:

    Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about WANTING. It’s more that I’ve realized I don’t have a choice…

  8. Posted April 1, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. So happy to have found your blog.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you!! I am happy to have found yours!!

  9. Posted April 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    What is your blog about? Really, it’s what YOU are about: thankful, gracious, loving, sharing, hoping, encouraging, and supporting. You are comfortable in your doubt because you’re a questioner, and yes, you seem to be filled with wonder as well. Your children will benefit from the wonderful attitude and loving words you use, both online, and no doubt, at home.

    admin Reply:

    You can’t possibly know how timely and meaningful this comment is today, as I am feeling extremely far from a wonderful attitude today! Thank you, thank you! xoxo

  10. Posted April 1, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I think wonder fits perfectly.

    I wish I knew what my blog was about.

  11. Posted April 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if these feelings come from motherhood or simply more years in the universe, watching and thinking and trying to figure it all out. As my children grow older it often feels that the only way I can cope with the idea of them not needing me as much is to let go of trying to control it. Thank you for making me think today.

  12. Posted April 2, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Oh, Lindsey, how I love this post; I have saved it to read again and again. Yes, wonder. I also thought of the word “wonderful,” as in, “wonder”-“full.” The world is full of wonder. The word comprised of those two things implies something amazing. And there is nothing more amazing than this, by which I mean everything.

    x

  13. Posted April 2, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I have long thought that asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers. I come here because you ask questions worth wondering about–such as this one.

  14. Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the
    challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is very
    useful. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    “Our human lives flow around some essential, unknowable truths, like a river around jagged rocks. We can’t change the existence of those rocks. So instead I am learning to love the glitter of the water’s drops as they bounce off of it.” YES, YES, YES!!

    Your blog to me is about capturing moments that awe you, inspire you, make you question the unquestionable, and just you. I’m so glad you blog because each one of your posts are like a drop of elixir to my soul. You are WONDER-ful.

    admin Reply:

    Hallie – thank you. You are so, so way too kind. xox

  16. Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I don’t know what my blog’s about either:). But yours makes me think, contemplate.

    The picture is beautiful. Where is it taken?

    admin Reply:

    That’s Crane’s Beach, north of Boston.

  17. Posted April 11, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    It’s serene.

  18. Posted April 12, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful post, Lindsey. I always find that wonder in your writing and I agree that it has a lot to do with paying attention, allowing doubt and uncertainty. I also think wonder depends on slowing down — something that is particularly hard for me! I rely on you for my reminders. 🙂