Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eleven Resolutions to Seeing Wonder in the Ordinary

Author and professor, Clyde Kilby, left a legacy of eleven resolutions to
"overcoming our bent toward blindness for the wonders of the ordinary."

  1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.
  2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek Drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death, when he said: "There is darkness without and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."
  3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.
  4. I shall not turn my life into a thin straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.
  5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.
  6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what C.S. Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.
  7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."
  8. I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.
  9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.
  10. If for nothing more than the sake of change of view, I shall assume my ancestry to be from the heavens rather than from the caves.
  11. Even if I turn out wrong, I shall bet my life in the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who is called Alpha and Omega.
Exert from @JohnPiper's When I don't Desire God (pg 197-199).

Enjoy the Journey.


A few post-publish thoughts:
Whether you know it or not, this "seeing wonder in the ordinary" has been a theme, for me, on this blog. Sometimes, I feel like I've pulled a fast-one over on some of you, dear readers. From time to time your comments sound envious of me and my ventures, and I think to myself, "Do they know I'm just writing about sitting in the bus, or getting my hair cut?"

When I say "Life is a Journey" I don't add "when you're in another country." That's left out purposefully. It's left out because it's too limiting. No matter where we are, life is a journey. The question is, what are we doing with it? Maybe it did take me this year abroad to realize it, but status quo is never something I hope to reach. And by reach, I mean settle for. Life is bigger than the American Dream. It's bigger than my dreams.

Near that passage, Piper goes on to mention how quick we are to "Oooh and Ahh" at the special effects on a theater screen, but ignore the beauty of life we walk by every day. No longer will I simply be amazed at what I'm told to find amazing. I want to discover for myself where life can take me. And I know to do this, it will take a conscious effort, day by day. My sincere hope is that I've said something to spark in you the same desire. That maybe the lens in which you see the world is broadening, as mine has done in the last 11 months. One could only hope.

Carpe Diem, Friends.


Deeptesh said...

Interesting...came back after a long time n whoa....this is quite unlike I've ever read.Keep up the good work, man!

Nikki said...


I have followed your journey this entire time and cannot believe that almost a year has gone by. Thanks for all the inspiring posts and the wonderful thoughts. I hope all is well over there, I heard Morakot proved to be pretty big. Enjoy the last of your days over there and have a safe trip home! :)

Nikki said...

Hey Chase. I have followed your journey this entire time and I cannot believe almost a year has passed. Thank you for such inspiring posts and for making me "think" more. I have really come to realize that life is completely different when you take the time to just breathe. I think we as Americans really just run through life thinking about tomorrow and what we have to do, but when you just let life happen and don't rush it, it's much more enjoying. I hope all is well over there because I heard Morakot proved to be a big one. Enjoy the last of your days over there and have a safe trip home! :)

Anonymous said...

About point number 5: I just read this in Wild at Heart:

"I wanted someone else to tell me who to be. Thank God that didn't work. The scripts they handed me I simply could not bring myself to play for very long. Like Saul's armor, they never fit. Can a world of posers tell you to do anything but pose yourself? As Buechner says, we are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our lives, but reactors."

the girl in stiletto said...

hey chase, heard about typhoon + taiwan. are you ok?

Kristy said...

You seem to always touch something in me that makes me think well beyond reading your written words. You will find as you get older . . I can say this because, I older and wiser . . lol
Life is beauty, I am a firm believer that it's the little things that sometime go ignored that hold the most for us to see and learn from.
You are wise beyond your years Chase!

floreta said...

your reflection reminds me of American Beauty :)

Kylie said...

I'm sitting in a little internet cafe in paree and I'm so glad I came over to your blog in my allotted 30 mins.... :) I have this Piper book at home, but I never finished reading it....I resolve to go home and read it! And I'm glad for the reminder that each person I came into contact with is a 'holy being....divine, terrifying, magical...' (thanks mr lewis)
and thank you chase!

Chase said...

@Deeptesh, Thanks man.

@Nikki, I really appreciate you following with my journey. It's great we can keep in touch this way. Send me an email and fill me in with what's going on in your life! :)

@Miles, "I wanted someone else to do the work for me." Oof, those words kick me in the gut. I have to fight that feeling everyday.

@stiletto, still doing well, but I'll keep you all updated about Morakot victims.

@MamaWood, thank you for your words, and I'm so glad there's something worth coming back to here - and that you do. I'm looking for those little things.

@Floreta, i've never seen it. lol

@Kylie, thanks for spending your (valuable) internet cafe time with me! :) It's a great book, isn't it? And definitely some strong words from Mr Lewis. Glad they jumped to you : )

Don said...

Chase, I was never fooled. A writer writes stories so they can embroider into the fabric their outlook, their point-of-view, their philosophy.

Usually, writers discover and clarify just what it is that they believe and think as they draft.

Great post. "Nice."