Are you awake? Are you sure?
In the movie Joe Versus the Volcano, a man (played by Tom Hanks) who believes he is dying of an incurable disease agrees to travel to a South Pacific island and throw himself into a volcano to satisfy the beliefs of superstitious natives. As he travels there, he . . . wakes up.
“Almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to . . . only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.” —from Joe Versus the Volcano by John Patrick Shanley
In my experience, total amazement is easy.
Last week I skied with my family at Mont-Sainte-Anne, QC. Several times we stopped at the top of the mountain. We gazed at the sunlit treed Canadian landscape and the spectacular St. Lawrence River and said, “Wow!” Total amazement.
Constant total amazement is more challenging.
Usually, we need jarring events to awaken us to appreciation for the little things. Power outages jolt us into amazement at the wonders of electric lights—the ones we usually flick on without a thought. A broken limb—or even something as simple as a cut on a finger—painfully reminds us how we really should live every moment in constant total amazement at the freedoms healthy bodies allow us. How about the device you’re reading this on? Isn’t the technology of it totally amazing?
Alas, it seems we need to fall asleep to the amazement, so we can function. After all, somebody has to do the dishes. If we lived in constant total amazement, we might get no farther than our bedroom doors every morning, or the park bench on a sunny afternoon. Constant total amazement seems to stop us in our tracks.
Perhaps John Patrick Shanley was right when he wrote those words for Joe Versus the Volcano. Maybe almost the whole world is asleep, just so we can get the dishes done and the lawn mowed. But maybe, if we think about that, it will prompt us to wake up at least some of the time, maybe a little more often than we usually do. Maybe we can practise total amazement periodically, if not constantly.
It’s a start.