Taking time to Appreciate the Awesome in the Seasons- Starting with FALL
For me here in Florida, the seasons don’t vary as much as maybe other places. Floridians pretty much have a hot and humid season then a not so hot and less humid and if we are lucky (depending on who you speak to) we get a few weeks of cold and much dryer air. Instead of us getting to see the fall leaves we can count on seeing dead looking lawns in the winter and then with the summer rains we get to see those same dead looking lawns resurrected and in constant demand of mowing.
Our fall this year has included leaves changing color but those were from all the branches knocked down by hurricane Irma. We have a hint of cooler weather and less humidity and that could be exciting or it could be just a tease and the trick or treaters will actually be sweating profusely in their costumes next week, we will see how that turns out tonight. UPDATE: for Halloween the trick or treaters were not sweating, it was very nice, almost chilly, 74 degrees.
The season now is Fall at least in the Northern hemisphere. What are some examples of AWE that is available are:
- The joy filled faces of trick or treaters.
- The sea of pumpkins at the local pumpkins patch or maybe in the produce isle if no patch.
- The changing colors of the foliage.
- The smell of Thanksgiving dinners
- The crisp fresh air especially in the morning.
- Cool nights
So, what is the big deal about AWE and why would I write about this idea? Well, increasing our awe levels turns out to be a very healthy activity in our lives which is amazing but I want to clarify the meaning of Awe itself.
As defined at Dictionary.com: Awe is that overwhelming feeling of reference, admiration, fear, produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful or the like.
The first thing that comes to mind with regard to awe is Mother Nature. Nature is the great outdoors—whatever that looks like out your door or places of intense magnitude like the Grand Canyon. But we can find awe in great art, literature, music, and life events to name a few. I think awe is in the eye of the beholder. The other ingredient that goes along with awe is curiosity which is a wonderful way to go through life if you ask me.
Okay, now back to the health benefits of awe. It seems that we are being influenced chemically just living life because our bodies release cytokines. What are those you ask? Cytokines are messengers sent from the immune system to take care of processes like killing off the nasty stuff and the helping to heal wounded areas. But here’s the thing, too much killing leads to more killing and ends up with chronic killing of the good cells or cell parts which pretty much drains our immune system and can leave us vulnerable to lots of disease.
Why all this talk of cytokines, killing, and disease? Well, according to research at UC Berkeley by Jennifer Stellar- (I heart that last name) I would say it is awesome but that is an overuse of the word….watch the video and you will understand.
Jennifer says there may be an antidote to this chain of events. She uses the word antidote, and since she is the researcher I am going to take her word.
It just so happens that she was checking out the feel good emotions and cytokine connection and low and behold she found that Awe helped to reduce the overabundance of cytokines BIG time. Cytokines are linked to all kinds of inflammatory diseases so we don’t want these on a regular basis in our bodies, only when needed.
This research is wonderful, marvelous but how do we get more AWE? We need to get outside and take a good long look around and get curious!
I know there is lots of research on awe, especially from Stephan and Rachel Kaplan. I saw this reference back when I was working on Hortitherapy and see it again now so I will look into their work soon. For now though, I want to close with the connection I made almost immediately when thinking of how to inspire more awe in our lives. That connection was and still is with Rachel Carson, one of my favorite people of days gone by. Her understanding of the natural world and the ability to inspire admiration from others is nothing short of awesome, at least in my opinion.
One of her books I have is The Sense of Wonder. I highly recommend this especially if you have children in your life.
I have included two exerts from two pages that are just beautiful.
I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused—a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love—then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know that to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.
What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?
I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant. Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.
The Take Away from me is this:
Enjoy a sense of wonder and revel in the Awe of each season.
Don’t wish for the next one, enjoy the present one.
Time waits for no one so we will find ourselves in the next season soon enough, scratching our heads, wondering where time went and saying “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, it’s time for …….?”
Please enjoy the AWE of this season. Savor the moments with family, friends, through art, literature, music, and Mother Nature because is just under two months from now we will be entering a new season of AWE!
If you have a bit more time I would say take a look at this video for a bit of comic relief and a wake-up call on the overuse of the word.
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