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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kennedy


And the search for yūgen

It's one thing to be amazed by a Gandalf or Dumbledore, wise sages and guides who don't exist; but it's quite another and much higher thing to be amazed by a tree or a sunset, nature's true wizardry which does exist and looks as if it doesn't.

Do animals wonder? We may never know. But it seems to be the one expression in poetry and the arts, that distinguishes people from other living things.

Someone who has wonderlust, (not to be confused with wanderlust), has a strong sense of curiosity and gratefulness.

Unlucky is the person who is born with curiosity, and who finds nothing in life fascinating or gratifying. What a tragedy it would be to lose our sense of wonder.

But there's hope for the wonderless.

To stand in the thick shrub of manzanita and gaze at a waterfall...

To feel the tug of a flower clad hill...

To place your hands on the soft, flaky bark of a Sierra Juniper tree...

To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost from the corner of your eyes...

These are just a few of the things which render a deeper appreciation of nature and ignite a sense of wonder. The Japanese refer to such things as yūgen.

Yūgen is a Japanese term which loosely means "an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and powerful for words."

Your yūgen is out there waiting for you, trying its best to work with you. But if you're too busy or too bored to take notice, it may choose to search for a different human collaborator.

Don't be the most interesting person on the hill. Be the most interested, the most curious. Find your yūgen, your spirit of wonder.

Charles Darwin defined wonder as “a chaos of delight” — a spiritual experience found in raw nature. No doubt there's abundant chaotic delight to be had in Lake Tahoe. But nature conspires to astonish us wherever on the planet we happen to be - if we just pay more conscious attention.

That we can wonder fuels innovation, it makes us human and keeps us humble.


I’m Michael Kennedy, Olympic Valley, CA resident, married to Nicola Kennedy (in photo above). I’m a writer, photographer and property caretaker. I just want to say thanks for your attention - I appreciate it in such a noisy world. If you enjoyed it, please share with others. It means a lot to me and it helps others see the story.

If you're interested in owning any photos in my gallery: click here, call or text me at 530.608.9150 with inquiries. My email: 

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Jun 30

Love it and the prose, Dad

Michael Kennedy
Michael Kennedy
Jun 30
Replying to

Thanks dad!

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