The Creation Of Wild Wonder
An Origins Story.
In the viral 2005 Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs said “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust the dots connect somehow in your future.” To a solo-mom clutching her phone curled up on her grandmother’s bathroom floor without a job or a penny, this was the truth that I needed to hear. If I could just keep following the dots, it would all make sense looking back.
It would be a simple story to tell, if I said that I just kept doing the ‘next right thing’ and ended up here. Yet, life is stranger and more unpredictable than that. Four years later, I was once again on my knees, but this time without a sense of desperation. I thought, “Okay, God, I see. I’m meant to live life as a monastic.” It was becoming increasingly clear to me that no business or partner was waiting for me in this life. Just as I was earnestly accepting my fate, my phone buzzed. It was a message from a man halfway across the world.
Alessandro Giovinazzo had been traveling around Europe on a motorcycle raising funds for children in Belize. He’d sent me a friend request one year prior, as we were both part of a kids yoga ambassadors group. I, being the introvert and otherwise suspicious person that I am, had not responded to the request for an entire year. Why I hadn’t just deleted the request as I had so many others is still a mystery.
My life felt stalled somehow. The dots had led me here- I’d completed a yoga teacher training, started my own yoga company, and was teaching up to seventeen classes a week. I was raising a child on my own, and was making enough money to keep us afloat. I was exhausted, lonely, and creatively impotent. Although I had all the markings of ‘success’, part of me believed I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere.
Meanwhile, Alessandro was recovering from a fatal motorcycle accident at his mother’s home in Cuneo, Italy. He had also followed the dots. They led him here- completing a yoga teacher training, and becoming an international yoga teacher traveling up to ten times a year. He was wounded, remorseful, and lost. He was sure he’d taken a wrong turn.
I now realize that ‘exhausted, lonely, and impotent’ are just symptoms. The underlying, more sinister, problem was that I had just about shut down my imagination. I was so shocked at my own luck – at having achieved what most people told me was impossible as a woman and single parent – that I had dug my heels in and refused to move. By labeling myself ‘yoga teacher’ and ‘business owner’, I’d created a two-dimensional silhouette of myself that was suffocating.
This life was light years away from the depressed television executive I’d been just three years prior. It was more ‘me’ than I’d been as a newspaper journalist. And it was a lifetime away from the walking cliche of a body-dismorphic dancer I’d been before that. I thought, ‘isn’t this the part where I look back and marvel at how all the pieces of my life fit together?’
After a month of texting, calling, and Skype-ing, Alessandro had an event to teach in Belize. He would stop in Miami for three days then continue on his way. I froze when he told me. Phone calls are one thing, but a man descending upon my life in Miami was quite another. “Are you happy?” he said. Speechless. “Excited?” Speechless. “Do you want me to come?” Yes.
The first workshop we taught together was just after twenty-four hours of meeting for the first time. It sounds risky when I say it, but at the time it felt like the most obvious choice in the world. Our next big leap was a “family yoga vacation” in Sasso Marconi, Italy. I’d always wanted to curate a family wellness vacation, but over the years I was met with dead-end after dead-end. This time everything flowed seamlessly together. Further proof of divine timing.
Over a year, Alessandro and I continued to work together, but kept our businesses and websites separate. I couldn’t yet see how we could form a collaboration that would allow us both to grow, while serving the communities that are important to each of us. There was also the bigger challenge of living between two countries (Italy and the U.S.).
I was taking a shower one afternoon after practice when the geometric symbol entered my mind. The alchemical symbol for fire is a triangle with its peak pointed up, and the one for water is a triangle pointed down. Both symbols hold meaning for me personally, as I was born under an Aries Sun (fire) and Cancer Rising (water). Alessandro was born in the sign of Cancer (he also has an Aries moon). The only way the two elements of water and fire may combine is through alchemy. In other words, it requires a miracle.
The words ‘wild’ and ‘wonder’ then surfaced in my mind. These words are sacred to me. Wild being the very force of nature, that we are all born with, as are the trees, birds, and wolf. Wonder is the state of reverence and awe. It is the place where all things connect, both backwards and forward. In short, it’s the moment when you recognize the miracle.
In a frantic voice message, I told Alessandro all about the vision of the symbol and the name. “I’m not sure I understand exactly what you want to create,” he said, “but I want to be a part of it”. Wild Wonder, as a business, is the fragments we thought we’d lost, coming back together.
I realize now, our stories are not so much dots on a line. Each moment is like a bead in a kaleidoscope, ever shifting and creating a new portrait. The pattern is there when we look for it, and gone when we don’t. And every now and then, we need someone to shake it up.