A Sense of Wonder – Diederik van Rossum


In order to break free from our everyday routine, we love going on holidays to foreign countries. We dream of seeing snow-covered mountain peaks against a clear blue sky. We get carried away by the thought of vast tropical oceans with majestic waves. We long for warm summer nights lighted by twinkling stars set against a pitch-black sky. Indeed, we travel a lot so we may marvel at something. But we never think of ourselves with any sense of wonder.

Of course, every so often, somebody may exhort you to be your natural self. When you are having doubts, good friends may tell you that only you know what is best for you. There are even people who will let you know when you are not being your natural self. But nobody tells you where you must go to be yourself, or where to find yourself when you have drifted away from your natural self. Nobody can tell you where this country is that we call ‘Self’. Moreover, if you suddenly are your Self, the people around you may be so surprised that you return from this short holiday to your Self as fast as you can, and retreat behind your familiar boundaries.

So it is no surprise that we are inclined to disregard our Selves without wondering. That is what we are taught to do. As soon as we are born, we are told we take after our uncles or aunts, fathers or mothers, grandfathers or grandmothers, brothers or sisters. It truly seems that a newborn can be representative of a whole bloodline. Even at that early stage of life, our newborn Self is totally ignored. Then we are told what to eat, what to learn and even what to become. On top of that, statisticians tell us how long we will live and the government wants to decide to whom our bodies belong and how we should die.

In spite of that, there are moments, generally only lasting for a split second, when we want to live dangerously, we want to feel that we put our lives on the line, even though there is no war going on. Moments, in which we want to break free from our restraints. Moments, in which we are bored to death by our own average dullness. At such times, if we don’t react too quickly by going on holiday or by taking drugs, there will be only silence within ourselves. A silence which is surprisingly close and which has always been there. Within this overwhelming silence, we are aware of every mountain peak, every majestic wave and every single star in the sky. The power and safety of this deep and invisible silence keeps us whole, whether we are on holiday or not.

How incredible it is that who we are is what we overlook, over and over again, without wondering at all.

Diederik van Rossum is a renowned psychosynthesis teacher and clinical psychologist. He has been the director of the Dutch Institute of Psychosynthesis from 1985 till 2020.


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