Stumbling on Wonder and Polar Bears in Central Park

Published: February 19, 2024
Category: Mental HealthMind/Body Well-Being

There’s a palpable energy surging through the team on production days when we’re filming Soaringwords workshops. Hair and makeup and the film crew arrive at 8 o’ clock on the dot. Cameras and tripods are assembled. Light bulbs are swapped out for light boxes. Flowers, props, and different outfits are laid out. The place is humming as everyone is fully engaged in their tasks. Last week was one such film day. Five and a half hours later, we wrapped on the interior shots for three workshops and headed downstairs to film some spontaneous New York City mojo with random people on the streets. As soon as we got outdoors, Athena, our brilliant videographer exclaimed, “This is perfect! It’s the golden hour now!” Golden hour is that liminal time of day between light and darkness when the light is excellent for filming. We ducked into Central Park and that’s when we stumbled upon the awe-inspiring magic of dozens of people taking photos of several enormous polar bears on the Great Lawn.

As we scrambled over the fence and got closer to these polar bear snow sculptures, I was reminded of another spontaneous magical moment in a Central Park winter wonderland 15 years earlier. One night after visiting my parents, my family was walking home through Central Park when we spotted a 12-foot snow structure plunked down in the middle of the Great Lawn. Even though it was twilight and we were far away, the perfectly symmetrical shape announced that this was something out of the ordinary—not a random buildup from a snowplow. So we trudged through the snow drifts to discover an igloo constructed of ice blocks with a rounded opening. We spent a few minutes huddled inside our igloo, imagining we had traveled to the Arctic north.

Awe is defined as an emotional response to perceptually vast or delightful stimuli that defy one’s accustomed frame of reference. Positive psychologists refer to awe-inspiring experiences as self-transcendent because they shift our attention away from ourselves and make us feel part of something larger than ourselves.   

Life is about seizing the moments of wonder and joy, not putting them off for another time. The next morning when we walked around the Great Lawn the igloo had melted. 

I’m sending you strength and love.

Soaringwords is the power to heal.





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