Wonder And Camels

I’m about to draw parallels between comedian Louis C.K., my favorite Victorian character Jane Eyre, our Saturday Hatha Star yoga class, and camels. Hold on tight; I promise it will make sense soon.

All of these things have been making me consider the notion of wonder (and delight, surprise, and, ultimately, joy).

I think we tend to define the word wonder with only one of its meanings: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty, as in “I wonder what the future holds.”

But its primary meanings are much more romantic: a cause of astonishment or admiration; marvel; rapt attention or astonishment at something mysterious or new to one’s experience.

I’m about to make a point that Louis C.K. makes in a much funnier way in the video clip below, but here it is: We use words like amazing and awesome on a regular basis (or, at least, I do) to describe somewhat regular things. But it is truly beautiful to wonder at the world — and I think most of us forget to do it. We’re in too much of a hurry or are too jaded to be curious  about the things around us and to be delighted by what we observe.

Here’s Louis C.K. being snarky, but also, in a way, kind of sweet about wonder; I watched him do this bit last Friday night.

Then early Saturday morning, I picked up where I left off in my annual reading of Jane Eyre—and was struck anew at Jane’s sense of wonder about the world. Her life as a humble governess in a remote mansion means that even the most mundane experiences—the receipt of a letter, an unknown man arriving in a carriage, a game of charades, a feather stuck in the hair of an eligible young lady, a carriage ride to town—are filled with surprise and delight. She has literally never seen anything like them, so when they pop up before her eyes, she’s stricken with new emotions and reactions. She wonders at them. One of my favorite things about reading Jane Eyre is to put myself in her shoes and to imagine the thrill of wagon wheels on the gravel and what mystery they might hold… to enjoy the vicarious thrill of seeing through inexperienced eyes.

Later Saturday morning, I went to my Hatha Star yoga class. All this month, our instructor is teaching us the meaning of our opening invocation, encouraging us to find delight, to find bliss in being our true selves.

Namah Shivaya Gurave
Saccidananda Murtaye
Nisprapancaya Shantaya
Niralambaya Tejase

I offer myself to the Light, who is the True Teacher
within and without (the teacher of all teachers),
Who assumes the forms of
Reality, Consciousness and Bliss,
Who is never absent and is full of peace,
Independent in its existence,
It is the vital essence of illumination.

Super groovy! But, again, beautiful and sweet. Who doesn’t want bliss? Who wouldn’t welcome delight?

So I was primed and ready when something wondrous and delightful happened in our neighborhood in a most unlikely place. As we drove past the Chuck E. Cheese a few blocks from our house, Dave excitedly told me pull over. We turned into the parking lot, and we saw this…

A camel! In South Austin! Eating hay at Chuck E. Cheese.

I have never seen that before. I was delighted.

So my question for you is this: Where will you find wonder and delight today?

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  • Hope says:

    Oh man, the end made me laugh with delight!

  • Cathy says:

    Wow, that came out of left field! Cool…

  • Lizzie B says:

    Love this post! I definitely needed a kick in the butt to get out of a mopy thing I’ve had the last couple of days. Wonder what I’ll wonder at? 🙂

  • Brianne says:

    What a lovely post! I found wonder in yesterday’s sunrise – it literally took my breath away. I showed my son (who’s 4) and he said, “it looks like a cupcake!” delightful!!!

  • Lydia says:

    What a wonderful thing! Ha!

    Right now I’m wondering at our amazing good fortune with the mild winter where I live. And last night I found delight in punching the crap out of our heavy bag.

    Life is good!

  • Every time we take a drive through the country here, I feel like my heart will explode. I hope I never lose that wonder for the gorgeous landscape.

  • BobT says:

    My two grandkids provide wonder and delight for me every day. 4 and 7 year olds just look at things so differently.
    The camel in Austin is certainly unusual, but eating hay at Chuck E Cheese is more healthful than eating the pizza! Loved the youtube clip.

  • Aimee says:

    Everyday on my way to work I see a monkey high up in a palm tree…just hanging out. I love it, the monkey isn’t real (of course) but the fact that someone went to the effort to put him in the tree is awesome…he makes me smile everytime I pass him!

  • jj says:

    OK… wow… that camel IS awesome!

    And I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a book that they come back to, year after year, for an annual re-reading. Mine is Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose.

  • Dragonmamma/Naomi says:

    Even though I’ve heard that camels are bad-tempered, stinky brutes that tend to bite and spit, I’ve always liked them from afar. They conjure up fantasies of desert nomads meeting at the secret oasis for minted tea and bowls of spiced nuts and dates, followed by haggling over bolts of exotic cloths and hand-made jewelry.

  • ms jane says:

    Love it! When I drive to work there’s a paddock full of sheep. And a random camel!! Not sure why but he’s often there just hanging with the sheep. Sometimes he hangs out near the fence next to the freeway and it’s very funny to see people’s head swivel as they drive past!

  • sarah k. says:

    I found wonder and delight in my mailbox about an hour ago! I got a beautiful book that I’ve been coveting ever since it was born in the universe. 😉 And I get to wonder daily at one of my kids who cries when I tell her she can’t have any more seaweed, another who can memorize a piano piece in a day, and another who will do anything to make himself “different”, like go to the opera with his nerdy mom. Lots of wondering going on.

  • Kimmie says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I’m IN LOVE with your cookbook. I appreciate all the tips and tricks. I have no idea how to cook and I’m fairly new to the whole Paleosphere so your book is a HUGE help! Much appreciated. I also love that I get the e-book for a dollar more so I can keep my precious book nice and pretty and print out recipes I want to try out and bring them to the store with me when I’m grocery shopping. More power to you! (PS NomNomPaleo was right, you really can tell all how much love and devotion you put into every page ;))

  • Victoria says:

    Thanks Mel, great post! I am so glad I found your site. It is ironic that when we are looking for one thing we stumble upon another. I was looking for a good recipe for some healthy paleo type food and I found that but also discovered an intelligent, lighthearted, wise woman; which was just what my soul was looking for! I am on a new discovery of “self”. I am a student again, seeking knowledge. I am an athlete again, immersed in crossfit. I am a lover of life because I and truly content in life!

    So today I found wonder and delight in my philosophy class. Who would have thought philosophy at 8am could be so enjoyable? Certainly not me, but I found that it gives me concepts and thoughts to wrestle with all day. Your post, even though it was a few days ago, totally complimented my lecture I received on life’s “mysteries”. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Victoria, I’m glad you found me, too! Thank you so much for the very kind words about my blog — and congratulations on your “discovery of self.” It’s a long process, no? But rewarding and surprising.

      Keep us posted on how you’re doing from time to time!

  • Ehsa says:

    Despite a 35-year career in IT (can anyone who hasn’t used punch cards realio-trulio* appreciate the internets?), a continuing source of delight and amazement to me is my iPad. Sitting on an airplane at 37,000 feet reading your blog on its dazzling display is just a total gas! Not quite a camel, of course, but you know what I mean.

    *Ogden Nash’s “Tale of Custard, the Cowardly Dragon”, also a delight.

  • Mel says:

    Thank you, everyone, for sharing your little interactions with joy. I’m really enjoying imagining what you’re seeing and doing. YAY!

  • Patti Glenn says:

    Not just a camel, a bactrian camel. They are from Asia and fairly rare. There is a wonderful movie called The Camel That Cried, that is about these camels and the people who raise them.