When All Is Said and Done

When All Is Said and Done

Have you been searching for a better way of surrendering yourself to longing and purpose that doesn’t involve some form of railing against the many ways in which the world can disappoint? Maybe a better way lies simply in seeking everyday moments of awe.


Or Getting my Goat

“Try something different – surrender.” —Rumi

As longtime readers will know, I can become pretty hotly bothered by the nonsense dished out in this crazy, nonstop, megalomaniacal world. Quite often, all of that agitated energy drives me to want to get my goat, as they say—here’s an interesting piece on that particular idiom, if you’re interested. If not, that’s fine, too. All you really need to know is that the goat, in this instance, has a calming effect (which, honestly, seems like the most likely outcome in every occasion involving a goat, but that’s just me). In other words, all of my bullshit wrangling is wearing my patience quite thin, leaving me in need of a breather. 

Of course, there are many problems in the world, such as war, climate change, extreme poverty and such, that raise intense feelings of powerlessness, dread and a what-the-fuck response, many of which are created by power-hungry hypocritesgreedy corporations, and a host of other shameful  clowns and questionable characters. It’s been that way throughout the ages and is not likely to change anytime soon. 

So why should I let it bother me? I didn’t move half a world away from many of those issues to dig and sift through the dank, smelly trenches of that cacophony and noise just to bring them again and again into the light of day. There are far better methods to surrender yourself to longing that don’t involve getting all riled up by the many ways in which the world can disappoint. Isn’t that what the news is for, after all? If feels that way, depending on who has the floor. 

Here's a word cloud from one of more contemptuous posts on humankind. 

society and humankind

Not that we should ignore climate change or any of the many other horrible, no good things going on in our lives, we shouldn’t. In fact, we should do everything in our power to change them. But thought is not the same as action and it doesn’t take skinning the cat to understand just how badly it’s ruining things for everyone else. In fact, leave the cat out of it entirely. While it might be in need of some serious scolding (and maybe some de-clawing) it’s not going to listen anyway and therefore not really worth your time (sorry to any cat lovers feeling offended. It’s just a metaphor. I love cats—I just can’t eat a whole one is the punchline to that joke, sorry again). 

I used to not be this way

We've all probably thought of ourselves from time to time (for sure, we've thought it of others) as not who we are today. And it's true of myself: I wasn’t always this way. I used to be less…shall we say, intense. Or serious. Or just less concerned with what others thought or did, less focused on any of the negatives. Life changes you.  Marriage changes you, kids and work and bickering with relatives and going to war and all the many other daily battles we face, they all change you. It’s hard, when you’re in the thick of just living, to even know that it’s changing you. But it is and it does and it will always and forever more. 

If there is no struggle, there is no progress—Frederick Douglas

Our mission at The Revelate has been to uncover proof that you can cut through the nonsense we’re taught about life and in pulling back the blinds of hypocrisy show that it's possible to surrender your heart to longing, forge meaningful purpose and find your place in the world. More than ever, we feel that’s a worthwhile endeavor, one that will probably last until death do us part (see quote above).

But I’ve been thinking lately—and maybe you have, too, if you’ve read some of my most recent posts, like this one, and this one—that I need to include one other step in the formula of living our most audacious lives and that is to stop every now and then, as often as you want, really, to give pause to the awe and wonder that will greet us every day if we stay on the lookout for it. 

Giving Pause to Awe and Wonder

Also, our goal is to have fun and entertain, to be transparent with our own experiences and empathetic to those of others, and at the risk of shocking others or being seen differently, seek occasions that challenge our understanding of the world in order to better measure what matters in life so that we might live longer, better, with less, wherever we are. 

Having fun, showing empathy, even at the risk of shocking others, these more than anything else we do in life can be made better when awe and wonder are built into our routines, integrated into our goals, and used to sharpen our attitudes of ourselves and the world in which we live. 

 Sure, things can get pretty rough out there. Just going to work is enough to steer one’s thoughts into feelings of isolation, the world is full of dimwits, many of whom have titles like director, manager, or owner. It is difficult to get through the day when all around you wade these parasites, clinging to whatever they can of your talent and goodwill. It is in these precise moments, when it feels like you are standing there all alone, with nothing but your own stomach-wrenching thoughts to influence your emotions and senses, that wonder, that perceived vastness I wrote of a few weeks ago, has the potential to shift us out of that nightmarish mindset into something less tumultuous, less mind-numbing, a way of thinking that’s more curious and open to new, perhaps even absurd, ideas, where we feel more connected to the incredible vast forces of all other life existing out there. Suddenly, that croissant or loaf of bread or special project—or rather, the bastard breathing down your neck about it—has much less power over you and grievance finds respite in joy. 

awe and wonder

Characteristics of Awe

All of this is to say, going forward, I’m choosing the goat. So you’ll see less of the things that piss me off and a lot more of the things that make me say, Wow. What exactly does that look like I'm not 100% sure. There are two defining characteristics of awe as defined by people who know this kind of thing: perceived vastness and need for accommodation.

Perceived vastness is the easier of the two to categorize. Think: nature, courage, music and art, life and death, anything that makes us aware that we are each embedded in a larger, steadily evolving ecosystem. For me, something as simple as walking through a library is enough to opens my eyes and shift my thoughts out of whatever modern pressurized mindset they've been harboring and fills me with curiosity and inspiration to pursue a deeper understanding of the world. All that from just walking through the front door.

The need for accommodation is when something we see challenges or causes us to update our belief systems. Think of a moment that changed your life. For me, I'll reshare an event I wrote about recently, while serving in the Persian Gulf War, where during a nighttime convoy I was witness to a thwarted missile attack. I know now that my life was not in danger, but in those few long seconds, while running for cover, my mind adapted very quickly to the notion that this was not a drill, this was a real war, with real ammunition and the real possibility of death.

Perhaps that is a moment I could point to where I lost a bit of my easier going self, the less serious Steve, the one that saw more wonder in life than reason to despair. But it's also a moment that opened my mind in such way to be more flexible, more adaptable, more situationally aware, and more resilient to change.

I don't really know, I'm just speculating at this point. But I do know that seeing the world with awe and wonder has been more helpful (and delightful) than ranting about all the many ills we face in modern society, and I want to make it more of my daily practice. My mind, and maybe your's too, will thank me for it.

Thanks for reading, and please, feel free to share your own moments of awe, whenever you come across them. Either in email, or on social media (InstagramFacebook).

If I had influence with the good fairy... I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.  —  Rachel Carson


Here's a gallery of the last six photos we've taken. With my mind better open to perceiving awe, I can look at them now and see wonder in each. Can you?

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Without Envy


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