Brave Living: How to Rekindle a Sense of Wonder

I am that person who ran away from it all. Yep — I sprinted away from a life so many coveted and respected to start all over. I wanted —no — I needed more out of my existence than what met the status quo. The life I knew just wasn’t enough for me.

Shall I begin at the beginning of my unraveled farce in 2012 — the year it all happened? No, not yet. I will rewind to the thick of things — the meat of the middle. That’s where my desperation erupted.

Before I get into it, I must confess that I have written so much about my journey from that past life of mine to my current life that I sometimes fear I have repeated myself, but approaching this essay has forced me to reconsider my runaway process with a fresh perspective. I have chosen to focus specifically on twelve different words for a series of essays I will be writing, each of which encapsulate the overall feelings of mass exodus of self as I knew prior to 2012. It seems most suitable that I begin at the beginning with the most befitting word of all for The Wonder Report: wonder.

Imagine, if you will, an early 30-something, highly-educated, luxury automobile-driving, small business operating, urban-living, cosmopolitan homeowner. Now, imagine that same chic individual living her days stressed out, extremely overweight, depressed, and disheartened. Insert me. I had a huge void and desire for meaning that I could not cry, eat, drink, sex, read, teach, or travel away. I felt empty. There came a point in my well-manicured, beautifully elegant, Matisse-ish mess of a life when I wondered what it would be like to live by no worries and with massive amounts of fulfillment.

Prior to my running away, I would lie awake at night (until the wee hours of the morning and before the shriek of the alarm) and blissfully deliberate what a day would look like without the cycle of career obligations and life disappointments. I was a Master certified educator by formal vocational training, and well, my dreams of emancipation were educationally related. Let’s just say that my freedom centered around the fantasy of there being no more homeroom or grading papers, or counting the days until paid holidays. I wistfully spanned the hours from seasonal vacation to seasonal vacation with thoughts of actually making William Ernest Henley proud by being “the master of my fate” and “the captain of my soul.”

I hoped and wished for the euphoric feeling of what life would look like outside of the held breaths and in between the exhaled whispers of a life “break.” I wondered what a break really looked like. I wondered if sanity resided within the break, and if I was ever to really have the life that allowed me to be free and at peace with the whole of me — the stunningly eclectic whole of me. This is the me who is always more comfortable around the ancient sages than around my contemporaries, but who is the one more oft than not to bridge the gap between physical and spiritual for peers to walk across to a wiser frame of understanding of “the big picture.” (In clearer description, I fully relate to Rafiki from The Lion King.)  

Wait. Please don’t let this be where I lose you. Be mindful of the fact that I have always been a person of deep spiritual conviction and awareness. I just was lost and seeking my way back to my soul. Even in the times of debauchery and desperation, I was seeking. In the moments of attempting to distract myself with daydreams of a different path, I was seeking. Taking those avenues of self-medicated escape was seeking within itself, and I was not alone. My circle of associates was seeking, too. Although, the time came when I couldn’t worry about them; I had to find the more that I knew was available for me so that I could live and not die.  I knew that wonder and bridging the gap to the unknown were completely synonymous.

My pursuit of a wonder-filled life became my motivator and comfort. After many miles of my transitory journey, I stumbled upon the realization that, ultimately, I am an empath. I feel, perceive, and record the thoughts, energies, and emotions of others without words. My empathic nature inspired me to finally live without judgment of myself and others; it helped me learn to understand the human element better in order to know myself better. My wonder shifted into wander, and my self-discovery changed everything that I knew as concrete in my life.

Will the Authentic ‘Me’ Please Stand Up?

Brave Living: How to Rekidle a Sense of Wonder | Self-Discovery
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor

What I knew to be true and concrete pre-escape were the trappings of “success.” I devalued the unknown. I existed to overachieve. I thought I needed “things” to feel secure and planted, but that thought process had failed me. My empathic pursuits and connection to unconditional love of self and others absolutely saved me. By deciding to spiritually reconnect to myself at my core source of wonder, the dampened kindling of my soul was reignited for the first time in a long time.

After I left my career behind, I began to reside within spirituality. During this time, ironically, one of the hardest truths that I had to acknowledge was that I ultimately wondered what it was to be the authentic me. My former life revolved around doing a lot of people-pleasing, but absurdly enough I lost myself in the process. I forgot to please myself. I now know that some of that is par for the course for an empath, but being an empath does not mean being a doormat. It means that you feel the totality of what can be of everyone including yourself, yet only others can make themselves happy and well-pleased with themselves.

The base truth about myself is that I have always been a vessel of improvement and healing for all, but I often got lost in the mix because I did not know how to maintain my boundaries. I did not know how to stand in my truth while enabling others to espouse their own individual philosophies. So the wonder of a new life was the fetus of hope, conceived from the quiet desperation of praying that there could honestly be a way of life for me that included peace of mind, body, and soul. The impetus was there, and the movement of coupling the action with the wonder followed it. Borne from the whole journey was who I am now — the stronger, truer, more spiritually articulate, clarified version of my highest self.

I now exist to grow as a person who helps others make the world a better place however that may come through me. Nevertheless, real-time financial obligations do exist, so I have had to learn how to bridge my own gaps from my abstract calling to form and function of compensation. I understand that life and wonder are truly precious, but balance is essential in the daily walk of life. Light must coalesce with darkness in order to form the entirety of a day. My spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional selves had to merge and balance — align — in order for the truths of myself to emerge, thus allowing me to work directly from my authentic self.

The real me has manifested herself. I am now present as the person I choose to be instead of the wonder of who I could become. The wonder of then and the materialization of now have slowly, methodically, sacrificially molded themselves into an individual. 

I encourage every single person reading this to be brave enough to follow the wisp of possibility. Seek and follow your wonder — whatever that means for you. There is an upside to the leap of hope. There is the oasis of glimmering tangible within the mirage you may be living in. Wonder always leads to something lovely, pure, and innate — to self-discovery. I implore you to turn off the alarm clock, and wake up to know that you can most certainly attain that in which makes you wonder for a different outcome of the day.

Keelah Jackson

Columnist: Brave Living

Keelah Jackson, also known as "The Mastercreative," is an esteemed writer, educator, singer/songwriter, mixed-media artist, model, actress, voice-over talent, and motivational speaker based in Chattanooga, Tenn. As a seasoned vocalist, she has been entertaining for more than thirty years, since she was a small child. Throughout her lengthy entertainment career, Jackson has held numerous lead roles in various stage, film, and audio productions. In addition to performing, she is a full-time educational consultant with a M.S. in Education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Senior Writer for The Connect magazine, and creator of her own inspirational blogs, The Runaway Diaries and Teenage Love. Check out her work at and

  1. What a beautifully, eloquently written display of truths from such a wholesome perspective. It was definitely a journey well-traveled.

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