Tracking Wonder Invitation – Not for Kids

Tracking Wonder Invitation – Not for Kids

Create May 16, 2012 / By Jeffrey Davis
Tracking Wonder Invitation – Not for Kids

Creativity consultant Jeffrey Davis lays out the seminal questions for his Tracking Wonder column.

I itch with questions. And I plan to scratch some here in this Tracking Wonder column for The Creativity Post.

When I hit forty years old a few years ago, questions curved around my mind about how I was going to live the second half of this life. How can I live with even greater purpose? How can I find hope among the ruins of mid-life? How can this life be carved even more artfully? When I’d take walks or sit with those questions or glimpse at my newborn daughter, the one word that kept tapping my shoulder was wonder.

Why do we have this capacity to wonder? How can the most passive of emotional experiences be useful for being optimally productive and creative? How can “the first of all passions” (Descartes’ words) connect us again with what most matters in work and play?

What is wonder exactly? Can adults actually cultivate something so ethereal? How exactly can it be the source that helps us creative innovators open to possibility, focus on what matters, and collaborate with freedom more than fret?

Those questions have sent me on an odyssey to many places in search of this seemingly ubiquitous yet elusive emotion: to tour with an archaeologist through what may well be North America’s largest and oldest cave art and rock shelter art sites; to India where members of the longest living Yoga tradition, Kashmir Shaivism, have “spelunkered” through the mind’s darkest caves; to the Texas Panhandle to sniff out what a young Georgia O’Keeffe might have felt during two seminal years that shaped her artistic vision.

I have gathered research from current neuropsychologists and cognitive scientists and have interviewed dozens of well-known innovators in the arts, sciences, education, business, and philosophy.

Wonder is the beginning of all wisdom, says Socrates. Wonder is the first of all passions, says Descartes. Wonder is the beginning of all writing, says Pam Houston. Wisdom, emotions, and creativity – all borne from wonder.

A handful of psychologists are picking up the crumbs these teachers have left behind. A few biologists have insisted scientists restore wonder before it’s too late for the planet. Some religious thinkers have called for its revival if religion is to be relevant this century. At least one academic has called upon humanities professors to renew its place on college campuses to save higher education from the marketplace of gadgetry.

Even the TED Talks Forum, which gathers our world’s brightest thinkers, is getting on the Wonder Bandwidth: Their 2011 focus was The Rediscovery of Wonder. None of these people are speaking to my toddler daughter or her crawling play-date friends. They’re reaching out to you and me. Wonder is not kid’s stuff. Wonder, it turns out, is adult stuff.

Wonder not only can help us innovate new ideas. Wonder not only can help us stay motivated and productive as well as bring delight to our lives and work.

Wonder can stoke us
to change a world
we deeply care about.

That’s only part of what I’ve uncovered so far on this odyssey. I’m eager to share more of wonder’s wonders.

Specifically in this column, I plan to zero in on the art & science of captivating creativity.  Captivating. Remember that word. Stay tuned.

Join me, and let’s begin tracking.

(You can select one of this nifty “Subscribe” buttons underneath my mug shot in the upper-right-hand corner, too.)


See you in the woods,


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