Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Goosebumps are a good indicator of awe. I'm often surprised at the stimulant—a good shiur, a touching scene in a book or movie, when the kehillah somehow manages to harmonize juuuuust right with the baal tefillah—then there is a chill shivering down my spine.
Awe is good for you, maybe even better than happiness, according to studies. The researcher, Dr. Dacher Keltner, who ran the study recommends seeking out the sensation, and it's not so difficult to find. 

In "Why Do We Experience Awe?," Dr. Keltner and Paul Piff provide the reasons for awe. Awe, by their definition, is the "often-positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world." 

A side effect of that experience is "it motivates people to do things that enhance the greater good." A "communal emotion," if you will, awe "helps bind us to others, motivating us to act in collaborative ways that enable strong groups and cohesive communities." 

When I read the article, I thought of the Revelation on Mt. Sinai. Sights and wonders to strike awe in all those that beheld it; then, the people are given the Aseres HaDibros, at which point they proclaim, "As one man, as one heart." 
They could have accepted God's law as individuals, but they took it upon themselves as a conjoined entity. For that is what, apparently, awe is supposed to do: Remind the individual that there is more to life than him alone, and that we are all playing for the same team. 

But awe cannot do its work if snark, cynicism, and scoffery is the go-to. My FB feed is often cluttered with supposed awe-inspiring clips and videos, and yes, I am not necessarily wowed by them all (if I watch them to begin with). Yet I am taken aback by the nasty comments left by others: "Big deal," "staged," and "I'd be more impressed if  _____." 
The snarky, cynical scoffer doesn't like community, I've noticed. He's cool, he's smart, and "you people" are just a bunch of idiots. If someone else found something to be meaningful, what's it to you?

The misanthrope spits on awe and his health suffers. The spiritually-attuned seeks it, and has others to help and lean on.   


Daniel Saunders said...

As Oscar Wilde said, a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Princess Lea said...

Oooh, that's great.