How To Even…Experience Awe in the Mundane

How To Even…
7 min readSep 5, 2019

By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe

Pop quiz: what instincts are people born with? There’s some debate about this, but it’s agreed that there are only a few, not like those cool birds with their migrating and their nest building. Lucky. One is the way we react to pretty things, the ooooh face. This is the reaction to awe. We even say that a lot of the time, “Awwww.”

See, there’s a certain feeling that comes with awe. Awe seems to be good for you. There are a bunch of theories about this — which just means nobody really knows — but it seems to have something to do with focusing our attention away from ourselves for five seconds, which, let’s be honest, is quite an accomplishment.

There is a kind of philosophical feeling that is so profound, for whatever reason, that it distracts the brain, momentarily. Various philosophies or religions have different names for it. One of the more common is the koan, which is a kind of riddle meant to help lead to enlightenment. In art, there is surrealism, which helps lead to wearing lobsters as a fashion accessory. The point is, these things take us out of ourselves for a moment and help us forget about how awful everything around us is. But there are also simpler things that don’t necessarily involve paying a fee to be able to see. Let’s explore a mix of ways to potentially experience awe, and thereby stop focusing on ourselves, shall we?

Big-Ass Stuff

Ever look into the Grand Canyon? If you did, you probably peed yourself, and there’s no shame in that. It’s why we briefly ran an adult diaper dispensary there, until “the Man” made us “stop trespassing and harassing people.” What about looking down from the Empire State Building? The same thing can be accomplished by looking up, though you don’t have the vertigo quite as much in that scenario and, you know, bankers might fall on you.

The thing about big-ass stuff is it’s big, and you’re small. How did they build something like that, if it’s a built thing? White people couldn’t do it, they’re too busy complaining about how they don’t own everything yet, so it must’ve been aliens…