An Invitation to Wonder
Last December I led a writing workshop, Invent/ory, which encouraged participants to take stock of the year behind them, think about the year ahead, and dig a little further into the past to find experiences and qualities that might serve them moving forward. It was a great way to get some clarity at this pivotal point in the calendar year. It’s true that every day – every minute, even – offers the chance to start anew; but if you have no idea of where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go, “starting over” is somewhat meaningless. I also wanted to prompt people to do a New Year’s reckoning that avoided rehashing the same old resolutions and instead increased appreciation for the life we’re living.
One of my favorite exercises from this workshop involves formulating questions about the year ahead. If you tend to weigh yourself down with resolutions or find yourself nervous about what may or may not happen in the coming months, taking the time to wonder rather than worry will give you a refreshing change of perspective. It’s very simple. Do you have five minutes? Want to give it a try? Then go get your writing gear and read on.
Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for the length of time you want to write. Set a timer. Five minutes is great for this exercise. If you want to go on longer, that’s fine too.
Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. And don’t censor yourself. Whatever you write is just for you. Afterwards you can do what you want with it.
Before you dive in, stop and take a nice, deep breath. Inhale through your nose, taking in as much air as you can without straining or forcing anything. Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your body relax wherever it might be contracted.
Now think about the year ahead of you: plans, events, desires, deadlines…. What questions remain open? What things are simply impossible to know right now? What are you curious about? What’s the suspense? Write as many questions as you like, but try to come up with at least five.
If it helps, you can start with the words, “I wonder….”
I wonder where I’ll wind up moving to?
I wonder if I’ll get the job?
I wonder who’ll read my book?
I wonder what my new clients will be like?
I wonder if I’ll see so-and-so?
The beauty of it is, you’re not answering the questions; you’re just asking them, and accepting that you have no idea how things will turn out.
When you read a novel or watch a movie, suspense is what keeps you hooked, fascinated, involved. This kind of suspense exists in your life, if you choose to look for it. From the state of not-knowing, many outcomes are possible. Enjoy the view!
Elaine Konopka is the founder of The Attentive Body in Paris, offering private sessions in attention-based bodywork and pain management. This month she’s launching Write & Breathe: regular meetups combining writing for wellbeing and conscious breathing.
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