Topic 2: The gift of "Wonder"

posted 1 Apr 2019, 15:01 by Didier Danthois   [ updated 16 Apr 2019, 06:02 ]

The gift of "Wonder"

Did I keep “Wonder” alive in my life? Did you manage to keep in touch with this wonderful quality of awe that the child naturally embodies? Can you recall this moment when the child entered the living room, stumbling his way through the door, as the whole family sits together after lunch? He is 2 or 3 years old, with a tender smile, not so stable yet on his little legs, he looks, he feels, he touches all, he senses the space, the people and moves with an innocence that captures your eyes, your heart, you cannot avoid looking. His presence is so pure, he is discovering,...the moment speaks, he is simply exploring. His capacity to engage with his hands, his legs, his eyes, his mouth is a pure pleasure to watch. Like spellbound, you forget everything about your struggles in your own life. You are enchanted by this little creature that has taken you away for a moment, from your ordinary reality. You feel refreshed, inspired, your heart has been touched and secretly, you long to go back there, to that place of pure wonder in yourself. Are you?...No? Yes?

There is a beautiful poem by Victor Hugo that illustrate the power of the Child’s wonder which goes (first in french, then in english): “Lorsque l'enfant paraît, le cercle de famille. Applaudit à grands cris. Son doux regard qui brille. Fait briller tous les yeux,. Et les plus tristes fronts, les plus souillés peut-être,. Se dérident soudain à voir l'enfant paraître, innocent et joyeux.“ 

Victor Hugo poem In English: “When the child appears, the family circle applauds with great voices. His sweet face which shines, makes all eyes shine, and the saddest faces, the dirtiest, lose their frowns suddenly seeing the child appearing, innocent and joyous.“

In my work as a mime/clown, I have been looking deeply into “Wonder” and how to come back to that quality, that perspective, that perception of life. Whether we are an artist or in our private life as adults, if we want to find fulfilment and happiness, I think that it will be very difficult without restoring the quality of Wonder.

So what is “Wonder”. A great inspiration for me on that theme is Einstein when he says:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.“

For me personally, I have had to do some cleaning up in my mind and body before I could trust again in that mysterious quality. At the age of seven and for three years, I suffered regular physical violence from my teacher at school and it took me out of my body for many years. I had to slowly and painfully regain myself, my body, my emotions and confidence in people and the world. This quality of wonder had been crushed for a while and I had to relearn step by step how to free the spirit of wonder. Ironically my healing process gave me a deep understanding of how to reawaken this magical gift. It actually became the ground of my work later on in my life.

Nobody seems to see “Wonder” as a very special aspect of our human nature. At school or in my family there was never anything mentioned about Wonder or keeping a sense of the Mysterious as something actually important to nourish.

As I grew into my twenties in Paris, at the circus school, I was fascinated by the Films of Charlie Chaplin, and especially his Tramp character. I actually saw all his films, he was my inspiration and still is today. It is again the quality of “Wonder” that strikes resonance. With wonder comes innocence, he painted the struggles of life as an artist with such reality and innocence that I could feel my human condition in a poetic way, seeing the humour hiding behind all experiences. Through his truly human character of the tramp, he could reconcile failure with joy and power with vulnerability. Well, that is the potential of seeing with wonder and innocence. We actually can become more whole and authentic human beings. 

© Didier Danthois 1st April. 2019