When Abraham Maslow talked about the ‘peak experience’ in his work “Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences” he mentions the word ‘awe’ nearly 20 times. But after reading this work many years ago, my mind interpreted the ‘peak experiences’ more exotic than they are.
Many when reading Maslow, think about an occurrence some time ago. That experience has been deformed by memory to grander proportions, and as such is not within reach today. Even more people think they never had a peak experience in their entire life.
Awe is always available. A smile can bring ‘awe’, a duck flying in the night, lightning, beautiful clouds, a poem, a picture, a colour you have not appreciated before, art, nature …
You have to make a little bit of time for awe. If you don’t make time for it, you will not see it. Not even when the sky is full of it.
But every moment you spend waiting during the day, you can look around and turn frustration into awe.
Somewhere in primary school, most of us are taught to lose our awe. Young children often open their mouth in speechless amazement. But when we are seven, we are taught to control ourselves and our emotions. We are taught not to give away what we think. Although awe is not really an emotion, it is one of those things we put in the closet. This in an effort not to show to others who we really are – also an effort to protect ourselves from ridicule and mockery.
Unfortunately, the closet becomes a shadow, and we forget to even open it to ourselves, losing that connection with the inner child, the real you, the real me.
After the calls of despair we start looking for the key. We can only find the key to the closet when slowing down, and when giving less power to the mental chatter. Then awe and inspiration come back to us. They become the every day peak experience that Maslow wrote about now nearly 50 years ago.