noticing the sublime, mystical moments that can change your life

a moment of awe and wonder in Iceland. photo by Jennifer Picard Photography.

in Japanese there's a word called "yugen", that translates as an awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and powerful for words.

in English, there are many feelings which have no word to describe them. this is one of them.

have you ever felt this? have you experienced a moment that transcended all reason, that invoked a divine awareness you couldn't quite explain?

these are the rare moments in our lives when the world around us shrinks and the ironic chaos of life itself makes complete sense.

it's when we suddenly feel less alone, when we finally catch a glimpse of the common experience that defines our world. it's when fear falls away and we feel less threatened by the vastness of the endless void. it's when we somehow realize we're a part of a selfless, infinite cycle of birth and death, with no beginning and no end.

it might appear as a brief, dreamlike thought before it's rinsed away by the tedium of the rest of your day. it might appear as a wave that washed over you, that left behind an unforgettable, illuminating spark that brought you to tears and changed your entire way of being.

it's when the moment suddenly captured the indescribable magic of the cosmos. it's when you understood, without any explanation, how similar everyone is, rather than believing we're vacuous worlds apart.

sadly, most of these moments go unnoticed. we're simply too distracted to care.

our task is to notice these feelings when they well up inside you, for they point to a symbiotic awareness of reality itself.

these are the scarce moments when your heroes suddenly appear no different than you or i, when the giants that once loomed over us kneel down and become mortal men.

these are the sublime moments when we realize the whole world is our neighbour and when the many miles between our nations are reduced to nothing more than the short, quiet spaces between our breaths.

these are the moments when we see the nature of our true selves more clearly, when we understand that our deepest desires are no different than anyone else’s, and that our stresses, struggles, pleasures, joys and failures mirror what others have felt across countless centuries before.

it's that moment when you somehow knew with a childlike innocence that you were intrinsically connected to all peoples, creatures, plants, rocks and things. it's that moment when you intuitively knew that a piece of you was entwined within everything.

it's that indescribable feeling that washed over you when you looked up into the night sky and peered out at the stars. it's how you felt when you tried to comprehend you're on a tiny mote of dust spinning around one of millions of billions of suns.

it's that smile that cracked your lips when you hiked for many miles into a far-off backwoods place, only to find someone's initials etched into the trunk of a tree.

it's that warm feeling that tickled your neck as you sat on a grassy hill and watched flowers wave to the sun while a river trickled next to your feet.

it's when the words of a poem, written hundreds of years before, illuminated a feeling you've felt but were unable to properly convey. it's that moment when your mind suddenly raced back through centuries and aligned you heart-to-heart with a woman from a long forgotten time, who once sat at a desk in a candlelit cabin with nothing more than a piece of parchment, a bottle of ink, and a feathered quill.

we each drink the water that once rained down on primitive man, each of us breathe the very air that once escaped the lips of kings and queens.

these are the existential awakenings that strip away all the gold, famine, poverty and fame and leave us with an unshakeable understanding that we are not irrelevant, broken or alone, but that we are all unique pieces, with a purpose, because together we are whole.

when we awaken to the awe and wonder that defines each of our waking moments, the infinite vastness of our universe will no longer vex us. we'll no longer view each other as competitors, adversaries or enemies.

these moments of wonder inspire us to find compassion for one another and all our fellow species. they teach us that no one or thing is above the rest.

sadly, these epiphanies rarely last and are soon forgotten. the moment soon drifts into the next. your mind wanders, your phone rings, the bus stops, the light changes green, someone calls out your name, and before you've barely grasped it, the feeling of bliss is lost. it's obscured by the hazy busy-ness of your mind while it tries to place meaning onto all the nonsense in our lives that have no meaning at all.

but when we are able to notice these moments, the walls that divide us crumble and the charade of our ego falls away. we no longer think in terms of us against them.

when we notice these mystical moments for the universal truth they reveal, we cultivate a wisdom that has collected since the beginning of time.

these tiny moments of bliss reveal an unparalleled understanding of the symbiotic relationship between our inner and outer worlds. if we allow ourselves to notice and contemplate them in our everyday life, we'll tap into the ancient knowledge of the universe; as above, so below.

the microcosm is the macrocosm. within each lies the other, and through understanding one, a man may understand the other.

we all share the similar embrace from our earthly experience. we must endeavour to reciprocate it.

brian thompson