A little bit about the care and keeping of the human spirit. Yours to be precise.
Do you believe in magic? Did anything magical happen in your life today? Something breathtakingly magical? Your spirit believes in magic, even if your reason negates that belief. If you don’t believe in magic, you certainly won’t ever see magic. But your spirit does, and you shut it down. So, did you see anything magical today?
No? I beg to differ. There are many magical moments in our day, each and every day, and they burst like the little rainbow bubbles we used to blow as children. The delicate “pop”, the tiny splash of liquid if you were close enough to the bubble. Remember? And if you were oh so careful, you could catch a bubble on your finger, or even the tip of your nose, for just a second before it went “pop”, “splash” in the softest of whispers. Remember?
If you can’t recall one specific, magical, bubble bursting, moment today, I am going to have to assume you just aren’t paying attention, or perhaps you’re taking a lot of things for granted, or because you are denying the magic.
I see magic everywhere. But I look for it. I love it. I lust for it. If I don’t see any magic in a day, I’m not living right.
I was driving eastbound in Interstate 80 this morning, on my way to my running club in Sacramento. If anyone has driven Interstate 80 between the Bay Area and Sacramento, you know that, for much of the drive, it is straight and flat and not very stimulating, certainly not very magical. It was early, I left home at 5:40 this morning, so by the time I was nearing Davis, I could just see a smudge of gray, a fat line, like a pastel marker. The Sierras. The sky over the Sierras was lighter than the sky higher above the horizon, and becoming brighter by the second. Suddenly, like a child’s ball ablaze, the sun popped up over the mountain, its ascent into the sky so brilliant and so fast, a few moments later it was as if it bounced into the sky. All I could think was “wow, magic.” And yet, the sun rises absolutely, positively every day, without exception, predictable down to the second. But it is, and always will be magical when seen, with one’s own eyes, even on the dreariest of drives.
I spent my morning running down a paved bike trail, fourteen miles at about twelve minutes per mile, with a one minute walk break for every five minutes run. We run like soldiers, two abreast, matched by our common pace and our love of the sport. There is conversation, we are comfortable enough with the pace to be able to converse, in animated tones, with laughter. At the pace I run, as in, not all that fast, we are mostly women, so the conversation is mostly about children, recipes and aches and pains. We run together every week, year round. Sometimes it seems like the same conversations over and over. Perhaps they are. I listen more than I speak. I am sort or a free form chef, I don’t often use a recipe. My children are grown, but not old enough to have children of their own, so I have no adorable toddler happenings to share. I don’t have aches and pains, and frankly, I think if the others wouldn’t discuss their aches and pains for three continuous hours, they’d likely not have so many. I listen to others, make a stray comment here or there, but mostly, I look at my surroundings.
What a resource this community has with this very well developed, popular and yet very natural trail. It runs for miles and miles and miles, through the heart of a good-sized city, along the banks of a river. Trees shade the trail for much of the way and there is wildlife. This time of year, there are wildflowers along the edges, where we run, out of the way of the speeding cyclists. The flowers lean towards us and are graced with nervous butterflies who light for a moment, then are aloft, bounding on a breeze, only to light again on another flower. A delicacy on a delicacy, butterflies on wildflowers. All I can think is “magic!”
Our running club as 500 members, though never do we all attend every run. There are still many of us, every week, leaving tracks with our expensive, state of the art, highly engineered foot apparel. There are other runners, too, and walkers, friends in groups of twos and threes, families with young ones on foot or in strollers. Those of us on foot use the dirt shoulder; the paved section is for cyclists and the occasional skater. Yet with all the footprints in the dirt, I am still able to see, occasionally, animal tracks. There are squirrels and birds, lots of dogs, but coyotes, too. Raccoons, possum, and rabbits. If one is paying attention and knows anything about animal tracks, they will likely see something magical amidst all the people prints. One stray print in the dust, a subtle and somehow not over trodden reminder that we share, even in an urban river parkway, our world with magical, furry creatures, who like us, are just trying to find a way to feed themselves, their families, to find suitable housing, to make a living. And, hopefully, to find a little magic.
I ran fourteen miles today, beginning in the cool morning and ending the in the sweltering late morning. I met my son afterwards, a grown man. My eyes are brown, as are his father’s, apparently we both carry a recessive gene for blue eyes. My son has blue eyes, not usually a vivid blue, but mildly blue eyes. Every now and then, depending on what he is wearing, or his proximity to something a certain shade, his eyes become remarkably blue. Today, he stood with the bright, blue April sky behind him, the sun I watched bounce into the sky over the Sierras six hours earlier was now hot and high up in the unusually bright, clean sky. His eyes were the most magical blue ever, like the day he was born; they took my breath away as much today as they did that day. Never, in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d give birth to a blue-eyed child. My parents both had brown eyes, both have olive toned skin. I have cousins and aunts and uncles with blue eyes, but we are all dark. I remember one night, while pregnant with my son, I dreamt an outlandish dream. I dreamt that I gave birth to a boy and I thought for sure I was carrying a girl, we never know for certain without modern science. I didn’t’ t want to know in advance, that would’ve taken the magic of the moment away! That moment we see in every movie, read in every story, that magic moment when the doctor holds a tiny person up and says, “it’s a …” In my dream, it was a boy. A boy with golden hair and bright blue eyes. To me, this seemed so unlikely as to be absurd. I shared my wild dream with friends and family, laughing incredulously at the outcome, telling it over and over, the ending delivered almost like the punch line to a joke. The day he was born, the doctor held him up and said, “it’s a boy!” I saw a baby, still damp his hair looked dark. Later, as he lay next to me in his Lexan crib, peaking out from under his standard issue baby beanie was the most golden hair I’d ever seen, not blonde, but glistening gold, like the metallic embroidery floss you’d buy at the craft store, if you were into that sort of thing. Crafts, that is. I watched him; he stared at me and his eyes were the most intense blue I’d ever seen. He was really, a dream come true. Magic.
When my daughter was born twenty one months later, another tiny bundle of magic, she had the blackest hair I’d ever seen, far darker than mine, or her dad’s, or even my dad’s, which, if it wasn’t black, always appeared black because for my entire life he wore Brylcreem in his hair. Even on his deathbed, he asked me to go to the only store in town that still carried this now obscure product and buy a tube. The tube remains unopened, unused and unneeded. I wonder what color his hair truly was before it grayed, underneath that layer of gel. A month after my daughter was born, her hair fell out. Completely. How cruel for the girl baby to be bald and the little boy to have a full, thick head of golden hair. She was bald. Cruel. I know, first hand, because my mom used to have to tape bows to my bald head and dress me in outlandishly frilly clothes so people didn’t exclaim, “what a cute little boy!” My hair finally grew in dark brown, like mud, and curly. My daughter’s hair grew in platinum blonde and straight, like silk, and as she grew older, her hair turned into the most magical assortment of gold, honey brown and red, no two hairs are the same color. It is thick and luxurious like no other hair I’ve ever witnessed, with a spirit its own, the mane of a goddess. Every time the wind furls it or the sun reflects off of it, even after twenty years, it is breathtaking. Magic.
There is magic in our midst, magic that has been in existence for all of time, that marks the passing of each day and of the millennia. There is magic in the people you love, there is magic in unlikely places, magic even in the dirt, if you look. If you aren’t able to recount several instances of magic in any ordinary day, I implore you to stop. Stop moving so fast, stop focusing on the pain of the past, the fear of the future. Magic is now and now is only ever an instant. If you aren’t living in the present, the magic in a moment has come and gone right in your midst and you have missed it. You past is only painful because it isn’t punctuated with the magic you failed to notice. Your future is only scary because you haven’t the faith in the magic of the present to assure you beauty in life. Magic is subtle, usually, not like the wave of a wand, the swish of a cape, the flash of a flame before the appearance of a dove. The sky reflecting in someone’s eyes, the wind furling through someone’s hair, a flower, a bee, a butterfly, a tree. There is a word that rhymes with magic; tragic. To miss the magic hidden in the present is tragic. Learn to live your life in the now, in the present and discover the magic, however subtle, however grand, in your midst. Today. Everyday.