Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Sense of Wonder

This morning as I flipped through the latest copy of Fast Company on my way to work, I came across a short article featuring Nicole Lazzaro, a passionate game developer and the designer of Tilt, the first iPhone accelerometer game. She talked about the phenomenon of mobile gaming as having "a lot of curiosity, wonder, and surprise, which is very powerful because wonder is a hard emotion for adults to feel." That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I then walked into a Starbucks and saw a sign by the cream and sugar area that read something akin to "I wish that adults could dream like children." Coincidence, or is the world giving me something to seriously think about?

Have we let the world make us so bitter that we lost our sense of wonder? If ever there was a time of year that we could, should, and must look around us in wonder, it's Christmas time, a season of dreams, a season that is grounded in faith and belief, even in things that seem impossible. It is a time of miracles. Christmas always arrives just in time to rekindle my spirits and give me fresh hopes and dreams for the new year. Christmas keeps me going.

There are a few traditions I have, things I do that restore my sense of wonder every Christmas. I wanted to share them with you in case you need a bit more dreaming in your life. I'd love to hear yours, too!

1.) I always take a trip down to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. I like to go very late at night or very early in the morning when it's dark out and there aren't many people around. I stare at those lights until they go a little fuzzy and there's a glow across the whole plaza. And then I soak up as much of that glow as possible and carry it with me wherever I go.

2.) When I first moved to New York 11 years ago, I wanted to figure out how to get a job dressing windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Maybe I've seen the movie Mannequin way too many times. There is something so magical about those windows. I'm always amazed that they can top themselves year over year. In 2010, I'm going to find a way to do something for one of those windows. I don't care if it just means tearing up tiny bits of paper that a collage artist uses to make something magnificent - I just want to see the process of how it all comes together!

3.) I walk up to St. John the Divine and light a Christmas candle. I spend some time in the Cathedral mulling over the year that's almost behind me and considering what I'd like to do in the year ahead. I ask God for some help and guidance, and I thank him for continuing to show up in my life in mysterious and surprising ways.

4.) A visit to Balducci's is one of the single greatest memories from my childhood. I would wonder around the store with my sister, Weez, and brother, Joey, and we would take in all of those delicious scents. At Christmas time, the store reminds me of the wonderful heritage I come from.

5.) I make my end-of-year charitable donations: money, clothing, and food items. This simple act reminds me how lucky I am, and how much I can help others.

6.) Prime time TV is bursting with Christmas specials in December. I try to catch The Grinch and Charlie Brown's Christmas at the very least while sipping hot cocoa and remembering how my family used to gather around the TV to watch those very same shows so many years ago. They hold special memories for me.

7.) Christmas concerts of all kinds are happening all over the city this month - I love to stop in to a few of them, especially if it's permissible to sing along! You can also find me spending some amount of time each day in December cranking up Christmas tunes in my apartment and having a little dance party as I rock around my very tiny Christmas tree - Brenda Lee would be proud.

8.) About this time, the weather starts to turn a bit colder. As I get out my winter coat and bundle up, I stop to consider the miracle that here we are on the same planet, with the same sun, moon, and stars, and depending on a slight axis tilt one way or the other, we get a heat wave or a blizzard. Amazing.

9.) The Christmas markets in Columbus Circle and Union Square are some of my favorite places at Christmas time. I get a donut, a cup of apple cider, and browse around for a few unique gifts, all while pretending that I've stepped back in time when markets like these were the primary shopping destinations for gifts.

10.) Marking time is an ancient, sacred act. Before we know it, December 25th will have come and gone from our lives for another year. As I try to rush to get everything done in time for the big day, I remind myself that in every countdown is the embedded message that time is precious. And is there anything more full of wonder than the passing of time itself and our own ability to survive, adapt, and thrive in this ever-changing, challenging world?

Wishing you a season full of wonder-renewing moments!

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