The C4 Ranch has too many great vistas to count, but Orlando Point is my favorite. Orlando Point is found on a bouncing ATV-only road followed by a walk down a trail covered by a brush archway that scrapes your shoulders as you shuffle with your friends. Then, like nature’s stage curtains, the brush gives way to a vista stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Mojave Desert.
Minds and mouths stretch open, “oh wow” then, silence. This is the experience of awe at its best.
Awe is an emotion that we can have when we are reminded of our scale, when we are brought closer to the humble truth about our vulnerability — we are but specks of star dust, as Carl Sagan used to say. We can feel awe when we look at grand vistas like Orlando Point, as well as tiny details, like the fingernails on a baby’s hands, or even in moments of thrill when we are faced with a big wave in the ocean.
In research, awe has been shown to be related to humility, as well as giving people a greater sense of time and resources. Simply looking up at a tree’s branches for a few minutes can trigger feelings of awe and can help us relax and feel an automatic sense of stress relief.
Awe can happen naturally, but we can also choose to experience awe. It starts by paying attention to the five senses. Next time you sit down to eat, before taking a bite, take 30 seconds to see the texture on the food, smell it fully, and taste every detail and small flavor you can and think about how far that food travelled to land on your plate. Think about the entire infrastructure that it took to create that meal right there, and breathe it in.
Next time you go outside, walk under a tree and make a point to look up at the sky between the branches and look at every little vein and capillary in each leaf. Soon, those branches will be covered in buds and maybe flowers, but they can be savored now in whatever state, just as they are.
Awe, as it happens, is not some rare occurrence, but instead is available every day when we choose to see it. Have an awe-some day and see you at the Ranch.
Glenn R. Fox, PhD