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Does magic exist?
The answer, of course, says more about our personalities and perceptions than any about any factual reality – the kind that you would back up with evidence, measurable results and predictable outcomes.
The Pollyannas of the world will happily come down on the “yes” side, whereas the cynics will evidently snub the very idea. And while it’s true that some see wonder in everything and tend to ascribe meaning to the most mundane events, others just view the universe as a random sequence of unrelated happenings that loosely intersect, with the chips falling where they may.
And it’s true: most of us don’t experience outrageous miracles, the kind you read about or see unfold on TV - winning the lottery, making it through to the next round of American Idol, getting the call to go play for the New York Yankees. Those are no doubt memorable moments for those who experience them, but as you are understandably thinking - these are also one-in-a-million cases and have nothing to do with our boring, daily lives, right?
While most of us are not aiming for fame or being seen on world stages, we do crave the high of something extraordinary happening to us and tend to go looking for it in very twisted and unhealthy ways. But I’d like to suggest that this is not necessary, and that all you need to do is temporarily adjust the parameters of the space-time continuum you operate in to discover that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you had the power all along. In this case, to see your life as the full-scale miracle that it has been and continues to be.
And here’s how.
Take your best friend. The one you confide in, lean on, cry to, laugh with. The one you’ve known for years, and with whom you’ve experienced the ups and downs of life. The one you’ve done a million things with, or maybe just a handful of significant things.
Now try to remember when that person first came across your radar, the very first time you became aware of him or her. Your initial impression. It may have been neutral, just like it may have been love or, surprisingly often, disdain at first sight. Regardless. Now imagine someone telling you, at THAT very moment, while you’re still sizing up this stranger: “You are looking at the person will become your closest friend, the one you are still going to know 20, 30, 50 years from now, and you will be at each others’ sides during all the important milestones of your lives.”
Wouldn’t that be something? Wouldn’t it feel absolutely “wow”? Would it not almost be overwhelming, as you’re trying to picture how on earth you guys will go from here – just being vaguely aware of each other’s existence – to there – laughing about the “old times” that are at this point still in utero?
Do the same exercise with your kids. You most certainly remember the day they were born - a screaming lump of tininess, served on a blank slate. Imagine being told THAT DAY what would become of him or her - character traits, interests, abilities, quirks, the challenges they will overcome. Would that not boggle the mind?
Imagine any situation, really. The kid born and raised in Hicktown, USA, being told that he will spend the rest of his adult life in bustling New York. The adopted child being told that he will finally meet his blood relatives at age 56. The drug addict being told that he will not only kick the habit but become a counsellor to other addicts. The business student being told that he will make a living off drawing cartoons one day.
And on a sociological level, what about the still-in-the-closet teen being told in 1989 that same-sex marriage will be possible in his lifetime? Kids in 2005 finding out that cannabis will be legal to smoke within a few years?
All those eventual outcomes are on standby, waiting to play out over the years; we just don’t, and can’t, know about them yet. But it would certainly seem magical to get a sneak preview. Hence the fascination with fortune-telling: being told of a development that is currently inconceivable comes with a lot of awe, even if by the time it materializes it almost feels normal, or par for the course.
And it feels normal because these things develop in increments, in tiny, difficult-to-measure and even more difficult to objectively assess fractions of moments. But that shouldn’t make them less impressive. This IS the jackpot. The people you love and are lucky to have around you, despite the admittedly terrible odds. The job you have. Your home. Everything you are passionately involved in. Your achievements. The hardships you’ve overcome. Your life circumstances. Think back to a time when they were not even a blip on your screen, and imagine finding out about how they will one day be part of your life's DNA.
Getting there can require effort and make the path feel more like an obstacle course rather than a direct line, and truth be told, many days probably won’t feel very magical. But you don’t get there by accident. You will have had an active hand in most of the outcomes, as you initially had to strike up a conversation with that stranger so that (s)he would become your friend, or your mate, or the parent of your children. You had to apply for that job before you got the interview, the callback, and the position. You had to draw on resources you didn’t know you had in order to get through some tough times in life. You even had to go to the store to buy that lottery ticket.
And speaking of lottery tickets, obviously some outcomes are not up to you, as an element of luck really is involved. At other times the outcome is out of your hands because it requires someone else – an actual person - to be on the same page as you, and feel the same way as you, be it about a relationship, or a job, or an idea. No matter. Just because it doesn’t play out the way you had hoped doesn’t mean it won’t lead to new places that become just as magical, and sometimes even more so. Even an event as tragic as a miscarriage leads you to the realization that you would have never had the child you ended up giving birth to had it not been for the tragic initial loss.
I don’t subscribe to “everything happens for a reason” or that certain things were “meant to be”. It’s what people say to make sense of the universe, or not feel so out of control. But when you look at everything it took, everything that needed to happen and fall into place for you to be where you are right now, then it’s difficult NOT to see it as at least semi-miraculous.
So fast forward to today, when - assuming you are not currently on your death bed - so much more of this magic still lies ahead. The people you haven’t yet met. The good times that are waiting. The book that will change your life. The cause you will want to fight for. The aha moments you will have. The places you’ve only visited in your dreams. The obstacles you never thought you could overcome. The good deeds that will help a person in need. Reconciling with people from your past. The new chapter of your career. Victories, small and large. A hobby you’d never considered. The person you will fall madly, passionately, deeply in love with, no matter your past, and no matter your age.
Trust in God, but do your part. If you are not where you would choose to be if you were on the outside looking in, then take the risk. Open your eyes. Open your mind. Open your soul, and make something happen.
So that by the time you ARE on your death bed, you can look back and see the big picture of interwoven magic threads that brought you here and became part of your life story, leaving no doubt that you made the most of every precious day on earth.
Sandra is a blogger, life coach and activist.