The Cost of Losing Awe and Wonder

Alicia M. Rodriguez
2 min readAug 22, 2022

How to recover our soul in Nature

It’s the end of August in the Algarve of Portugal and I haven’t posted an Insights from the Beach for a while. I’m on my daily walk on the cliffs in Ferragudo. I notice the many tourist boats motoring to the grottos to inspect the caves. The tourists are armed with cameras and iPhones and as the boat pauses, they stand to snap an image of the rock formations that are revealed by the low tide.

It occurs to me how strange it is that they come from a busy world focused on productivity and work for an encounter with the raw forces of nature — but still they miss the point. They go on vacation to take photographs of nature yet in their daily lives they are not aware of the habits that destroy the very thing they are here to experience. The gift of nature is not integrated, it’s something outside of the self. Using the lens creates a disconnection and distance from the energy here. There can be no relationship to what they see.

I wonder if they understand that the ocean carved the limestone into this majesty over eons, that the Atlantic storms battered the cliffs to shape them, that sentinels once stood here to protect the mouth of the river Arade from pirates. Do they notice the nests of the seabirds within the cracks in the stone? Are they hearing the whistling sound made by the wind through the rock formations?

Every single time I’m on the cliffs I’m inspired. I breathe in gratitude and experience my time here as something sacred. Maybe we need more wonder and awe to connect to the sacred within us that we try to fill through our desire for material things. Maybe we need to value what is genuine and real so we can reconnect to our essence that we gradually lose as we navigate the demands of life.

If there is no felt sense of the grandeur of these cliffs, of the coast’s history and ancestry and how it shaped the lives of the people here, then the soul has not been nourished. All that is left are photos taken as trophies of a place that is so much more than an Instagram post.

LISTEN TO Insights from the beach August 22, 2022.

Originally published at on August 22, 2022.