This past week, our group spent alot of time on the Overview Effect for our group project. Indeed, my mind has been in this place as I work to create an Overview Effect during meditation. One thing to explore and consider one day with the Overview Effect is that it’s really a sense, a feeling of awe; of being wonderstruck. I love that term. The clouds wonderstruck me when I was 4. When I figured out that the blurry patch below the belt of Orion was the Great Nebula in Orion, I was wonderstruck. I searched library books for that answer and the ability to find those answers left me with a profound awe.
Researchers describe awe as a the feeling we get when in the presence of something larger than ourselves. Awe challenges the normal ways we see the world. Awe comes from a beautiful piece of art, a butterfly in springtime, a thunderstorm, the night sky, a moving speech. All inspire awe.
Does awe grab our attention because the experience is beyond ourselves? It’s an interconnectedness with others, a broadening of experience, the thrill of something new. Is it the smallness? It seems in brushes with awe our sense of self diminishes and along with it all our everyday concerns do as well. As we get smaller so do they.
So is it the actual imagery or the act of exploration that gives that sense of awe? I think about the amazing images that astronauts share with us earthbound humans. Images of thin layers of atmosphere, the fragility of Earth. An image showing an Earthrise over a barren landscape; of aurora dancing below our feet. These image inspire….awe. Seeing the Milky Way on a dark night inspires awe. Watching fireflies dance in a forest, experiencing a sunrise, feeling the power of a thunderstorm, watching mighty waves roll in, seeing a glassy sea…all wow us beyond words.
I think about a painting in my grandma’s house painted by an artist depicting the West. The mountains were huge; much larger than life. That’s how we got inspired to travel. We wanted to experience awe. From the crazy stories brought back by missionaries of their travels to the Far East; the drawings of huge flowers brought back from the rainforests of Africa. Knowing that beyond our daily experience, there are wonders that we cannot imagine in places we cannot reach in a day. These experiences are part of the Overview Effect.
I think alot in my work about delight. What can I do to delight an audience through turn of phrase or adjustment of image. Awe must equal delight. Beautiful things often bring a smile. Seeing an awesome sight fills us similarly. And to do this daily must be the single best path toward true happiness and bliss.