The word itself is a vocal exercise. I remember my choir teachers demanding that we open our mouths like a cave. Round and tall. Awe. Awwwwwwwwgh. Other than that, “awe” has limited usage in my vocabulary. Instead, I tend to say the following when met with something interesting, pretty, or impactful.
When I’m riding my bike around sunset,”Dude, look at that sunset! Whoa!” I might say this regardless of the fact that I am biking alone.
When someone tells me something very surreal, “Oh man…thats intense…” It slips easily from my lips. I wouldn’t want to just stand there staring at the person, mouth agape. That might get a little awkward.
In the event that I am surprised beyond reason I will explode with, “OH Sugar Honey Ice Tea!” or other fun words.
The truth is, I haven’t been in awe in a very long time.
The last time I probably was in awe was when I was a little girl, and I don’t remember the time or place… I think I was with my aunt, uncle, and grandparents, and I saw this huge fountain. Like a tall building, except it was composed of fast moving water. Granted it was huge to me because I was pretty miniature at the time, but I felt like a particle. It was terrifying, but I wanted to get closer. Soon, my eyes turned into fountains of their own, and I would inch forward and then turn away—retreating into the refuge of my family. After I while, I just stared at it, timidly reaching my little paw out to catch drops of water that separated from the downpour.
I hesitate to use the phrase, “I felt awe” because I think the thing that differentiates awe is that the feelings you do feel are so contradictory and perplexing that it becomes a state of being. It could be a few minutes or an hour-long session. But for those moments when you are in are in awe, you have no words. In that moment, you are coming to terms with something that outsizes you. I think thats part of the reason that awe is such a human reaction, because I live in a world where humanity is the pinnacle. Humanity is biggest, the best, and the brightest, and if I do encounter something that makes me feel vulnerable—whether that be a shooting star, a red moon, or crack in the earth’s crust—I can always figure it out…collect my factoids.
Awe is like a cave. You enter the cave, and it is a cave because it can engulf you. Its dark and intimidating, but its awesome. So you continue to go deeper. I look forward to experiencing awe again one day.