Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bumping into Magic

A familiar childhood memory for many of us is that of winter's first snowfall when, in bed, just opening your eyes, you sensed that the world had changed and you rushed to the window to see it. A moment so magical that it is easily recalled, often with the wish that it could be replicated; and sometimes with a self-scolding because you can't bring up that feeling again. "What has happened to my sensitivity?" you wonder, as you grumble about the morning's drive ahead of you. Well, ease up. No one can produce magic. You can produce a wonderful setting, a grand wedding or a perfect Christmas morning. Such settings may be fun and moving and memorable, but not have a single magic moment. And that's because you bump into magic, you don't create it. It's a fleeting glimpse into another world. Time and place are suspended in a moment of harmony and joy and mystery. And, while there is mystery, at the very same time, there is a sense of understanding ... though you don't necessarily know what you understand. Sometimes, in larger moments, one is aware of a coming together of various elements, a confluence never thought of. I had such a moment a few days ago.

The evening before, I watched the 1949 film, "The Secret Garden," which was one of my favorite books when I was a child. The next morning, while going through my usual routine, I had a sudden, intense realization that the major themes of my life were present in the film I had watched. It wasn't a mental activity. That is, I didn't name and sort out the themes. (Hey, I'm a psychologist, been there, done that) The experience was one of integration, unity, wonderment at how things can come together, outside our range of consciousness. My life made sense in a new way and with that came a rush of joy. It lasted, at most, a minute. I hadn't learned anything new about myself, but I had a more integrated understanding and a keen sense of happenings beyond my control. It was enchanting.

While you can't create magic, you can be open to it; aware enough that when a magic moment occurs you don't dismiss it and hurry on to other things. For me, nature sometimes calls up magic moments as does creative activity. How often we hear writers and painters say that they have no idea where a creative impulse comes from; it mysteriously appears and then is gone. While there, they are indifferent to time and place, aware only of a force or energy that seems to be beyond the usual self.

Before I go to sleep at night, I like to ask myself, "What was the surprise in my day?" No matter how humdrum the day, there is always a surprise to be found. It's a habit that helps keep me open to surprise, to valuing those rare, soul-satisfying moments of magic.


The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)


sharon said...

I sometimes get a glimpse of magic when I remember first feeling and taasting the snow for the first time or remembering sliding on my sled when I was little. Too bad we lose most of those wonderful moments when we grow up. I have not had one in many years now.
Love the posts. Keep them coming.

Aileen said...

Thank you for starting my day with this... (: