On the art of wondering

Future of Being

As I’ve trodden through the bewilderingly peaceful streets of Tokyo over the past couple of days, gazing at the beautifully adorned bodies that stroll down the pavements through the window of a matcha café, or delighting in the setup of a ramen restaurant that encourages solo dining by its very design, I’ve noticed another, more nuanced feeling emerging within me. I’m in awe that the biggest city in the world–rather than shrinking you to the size of a dust particle on the side of the road–makes you feel as if you can do anything, be anyone, live any life you choose.

It is at once utterly maddening and fundamentally liberating that we can live just one life. The life that is uniquely ours. That no-one else can ever live in quite the same way. That one life that is entirely shaped by the idiosyncratic behaviours, quirks of the mind and oddities of the heart that are etched so deeply into our souls. And more maddening still, is the realisation that in order to truly live that one life, you must fully embrace that one life and everything that comes with it. From the one helpless but beautiful body you find your consciousness nestled in at birth, to the sacred timeline you’ve been gifted by the universe, to the one random postcode that’s shaped your entire existence, to the one oh-so-specifically dysfunctional family you’ve been born into. Every time we choose to take the left rather than the right fork, we are waving goodbye to a panoply of potential realities as we gingerly step onto the path that feels “right” in that pinprick of time.

Naturally, this means that we can never life the life of another. However much empathy we build for others, ours is the only perspective we will ever experience. However many times we choose to dye our hair and reinvent ourselves, or move halfway across the world simply to “find ourselves” exactly where we began, we are inextricably bound to our one self and our one life. This unbreakable vow with the universe is why the art of wondering forms such an important part of the human experience.

Wondering what motivates the train conductor who never fails to make the most bitter of London commuters chuckle with her paradoxically jolly tone and British humour; wondering what it feels like to grow up as an invalid with no hope for recovery, but surrounded by a beautiful family who refuses to give up; wondering what it feels like to be the garbage man who’s so effortlessly kind regardless of how much the rain may be drenching his soul; wondering how the timid child in your kindergarten class who could barely hold a paintbrush went on to become a paradigm-shifting artist who’s forever altered how you perceive the nature of time.

The art of wondering is what enables us to peek into the inner worlds of another, without shouldering the burdens that weigh down their reality. The art of wondering is what helps us construct bridges that never let another human fall, without ever having looked them in the eye. The art of wondering is what brings your lover to your doorstep just when you thought the thunderstorm would never cease.

The art of wondering is what makes us human.

March 28, 2024