I am amazed when what I am in the presence of doesn’t immediately add up. It is not the concrete particular, not something about some thing but the general furniture of the world that carries me into amazement. Then, the world presents itself to me as a mystery, full and true. I didn’t know that–. I had no idea that–. I couldn’t fathom, till now, how great is that which is. (I probably stop thinking in amazement, but this is the sort of thing I would think if I did think.)
Amazement presents the discrepancy between the appearance of this fullness, which is here, which is what is, and my present inability to intellectual grasp. It is here and I am here, and I don’t what to make of it except to exclaim, ‘How utterly beautiful! How glorious!’ This is what I mean when I say that the presence ‘doesn’t immediately add up.’ Here it is, and it doesn’t add up: doesn’t add up that it is here at all or how it is here. It can’t yet be accounted for, tallied up, counted, measured, fit into a pre-existing conceptual framework. I am speechless.
This is why those who think they have everything figured out in life cannot wonder (‘Hang on, is that how things are?’) and cannot be amazed for they cannot be in the presence of splendid fullness. They think they know. Life is all worked out. Nothing remains a mystery. They have a handle on everything. No doubts, no Gordian knots, no vexations. Annoyances, yes. Bewilderments or consternations, no. I believe they must be bored with themselves and the world around them.
Think about this instead: to be in the full, resplendent, bursting presence of what does not immediately add up to you. How about that? Of course, the unfolding of the world will somehow or other be added up later; amazement is transient. Amazement, born of wonderment, begets wonderment again. I wonder… How amazing! I wonder how to account for that amazement… But the trick, though it is not a trick but a kind of surrender, is to let oneself be amazed. And that is the easiest thing to do–which is to say, to not do–once one stops insisting…