“Leave room for the magic. That only happens when you let things look different than what you imagined.” —Levi Schmitt (character) on Grey’s Anatomy
A solitary tulip rising to say hello in a garden border where you had not expected one to be planted. A beautiful sunrise to greet you as you begin your day. An electric and riotous thunderstorm when the forecast calls for sunshine all day. The melodic soliloquy of a bird as you take a walk where you least expect to hear a bird. The overnight transformation of a cherry tree becoming awash in white blossoms in what felt like the blink of an eye, literally. The acquisition of a new skill habituated into your toolbox of abilities that for weeks and months, perhaps years prior, it would not come without forethought and strenuous mental exercise. Crossing life paths with people, or a person who share(s) sincere similar interests and appreciation for living that harmonizes with your own modus operandi.
Each of the above moments captures magic. Magic that can remind you of the awesome nature of living fully and in the present moment, letting go of expectation and delighting in the surprises that greet us.
The truth about life is that we do not know what will come tomorrow, nor a year from now, let alone five or ten years from now. That we think we do is a placebo we accept that brings peace to our mind so we can better live in the present. However, we are not without agency. We are an actor in the play that is our life, and so if we don’t participate, if we don’t show up and fulfill a role, the storyline changes. We don’t know how it might have unfolded, but simply by not being actively engaged in each moment, we will never know how the next scene, and then the next, would have played out.
Which is to say, we have choice.
In 2015, I had the opportunity, having just arrived and beginning my life in Bend, as I shared in this post/episode about where true success resides, to go to a lecture given by author Elizabeth Gilbert on her book tour for Big Magic. As I wrote, “Gilbert shares in her book and reiterated on stage that each of us has within us treasures, hidden treasures waiting to be mined and brought to the surface. But here’s the catch, unearthing your unique treasures is going to require ‘work, faith, focus, courage and hours of devotion’. And do you know why many people don’t find their treasures? They don’t give credence to their natural curiosities because they can’t predict what the outcome will be.”
Another way we may not ‘give credence’ is by not fully participating in our lives.
The tricky dance move that we must learn is yes, we must participate fully in our lives, but at the same time, we also have to let go of expectations.
The Balance Beam analogy
Immediately what comes to my mind is walking on top of a gymnastic’s balance beam, putting one step in front of the other and not looking down, but trusting that we know how to walk – our pace may be slower at times, and we may even speed up once we become more comfortable, and yep, we may then slow back down because well, we just want to travel differently as we find our most comfortable speed and rhythm through trial, error and experience – but the walking and taking a step forward is akin to trusting ourselves to know how and to know who we are. The world and life is the beam, ever constantly there, but sometimes rigid, unmoving, while other times, seeming to move under our feet, when really it is how we are affect by the environment around us and our thoughts about the environment that create this illusion.
So back to how to welcome the magic and dance with it.
There are many instances in my own life that I see how magic has played a role, and I could never have predicted such outcomes; however, the common ingredients I had to bring to each occurrence were (1) making the choice to do something different, new or out of my ordinary schedule or routine, and thus taking action toward a decision that would change my life, and then (2) fully being there – going all in, being fully present and not holding back my heart, my hopes, my love, my curiosity, my genuine joy.
From the big choices of buying a house that I hemmed and hawed over for what seemed like far too long – a week that made my realtor quite certain I was not going to commit to making an offer (I detail the magic that prompted the house to cross my path in my recent book – The Road to Le Papillon), and whether to welcome Ms. Nelle into our lives (my now 9 1/2 month old puppy, Norman’s young sister), a decision I hemmed and hawed over for more than six months if not longer. To what to plant in the garden for spring blooms or whether or not to take that walk, go to that concert, try that new restaurant. Magic can appear in our lives in each and every one of these decisions. But do you know what I also have learned?
The magic reveals itself at multiple points along our journey of first, contemplating what to do, then doing it, and then fully engaging with whatever it is that we’ve chosen. And it is magic’s fullest gift that happens after we’ve made the decision to explore, and not necessarily immediately. Meaning, once we have made the decision – to buy the house, welcome the puppy, say yes to that trip to Antartica (beloved TSLL reader, you know I am talking about you! So excited for you!), book that vacation rental, sign up for that class – we have to keep fully engaged, bring our whole heart and an attitude of determination and realization that there will be times of limbo and transition (hello! Norman looking at me and saying with his eyes – what have you done to my ease of life?, or as I am in French class – the doubts of wondering when it will even remotely begin to become second nature to ‘know’ the language without strain), but such doubts arise because of our old patterns of living and thinking (learn more about self-sabotage and this temporary stage we must be aware of if we are going to grow and step into the change we seek).
We have to remember that if we have made a significant change in our life, routine, or modus operandi, our brain will need time to catch up (thus, its survival habit of self-sabotage). Our Lizard Mind likes what it knows, and when we change the ballgame of how we live and move through our days, the mind is very uncomfortable. So long as we know this about our mind, we can bring our mental strength to residing in the Sage Mind, and remind ourselves that this shift will take time to become acclimated as the new approach to living your life. With all learning, it is a muscle, and we can tone the muscle to do something helpful or hurtful, but both take time to become habituated.
As each year passes with our life, most of us – whether we enjoy the life we have built or not become more fixed, more comfortable, which is often why big changes, or learning new skills feel much more difficult. It’s not because we’re ‘too old’, it’s because we are more engrossed in mental routines than actively and regularly stretching our minds. Once we acknowledge that because these routines have had a loooong time to imprint themselves on our long-term memory, we can persist with the change we have chosen.
The magic of life is ever-giving, we just sometimes doubt that it is of substance.
From Norman’s perspective now, a 13-year old gentleman who definitely had a way of life that he was accustomed pre-Nelle, it took him time, but now, he has a bit more pep, he knows I love him just as much as I ever did as I consciously praise and give affection to both of them regularly throughout each day, and he seems to appreciate an extra nose to find all sorts of curiosities. With her respecting his space and becoming more aware of Norman and consciously noting to not jump on him or step on him haphazardly, he seems to be quite comfortable (see the pic below), and content with her company.
The magic however is not choosing or not choosing to bring a dog into my life to join Norman and myself. The magic is trusting that our intuition and serendipity will guide us to the best decision for our life as it pertains to any particular aspect we are exploring. Once I put my intention out into the universe: What is best for my journey forward? I let go and engaged with my everyday life, observing, but always participating, and then observing my comfort or discomfort as different experiences occurred. With each experience, I gathered information and just took it one step at a time. The same has been true with my journey of blogging, and buying a house. Oh, most definitely I had a plan when it came to when I wanted to buy a house in Bend, but that did not turn out at all. In the interim of when I thought I would be owning a house and when I actually did, four years past, and during that four years, so many awesome growth moments and opportunities were experienced, but I had to dance with life, not stand on the sidelines pouting or doubting. I had to say yes, I had to explore, I had to dare, and then I had to trust.
Whether it comes to a big decision that perhaps involves a relationship or a job, the magic is what guides you forward to make the best decision for you. Then the magic continues to be sprinkled on your life as you journey forward in a direction you have never traveled. Along that road, you discover and unearth truths about what brings you back or to most fully into your true self, and that is why magic is worth welcoming into our lives. It opens up our minds enabling us to discover ahas we would have never known had we stayed in the safe zone of life, doing what we’ve always done, following a path that others accepted or poo-pooing life and complaining that it isn’t working out for us as ‘it should’.
The good and awesome news is magic is life and surrounds us each day even if we don’t notice it or meet, witness and/or seize the opportunity it offers. Magic is what curiosity is leading us to if only we will trust the latter’s compass.
Magic, when we participate in our lives, when we say yes or say no, thereby living consciously, listening to our true selves, is what will nourish a life that has never been lived as you will live it. And you will be grateful you had the courage to step toward such a life and try, while also letting go, and living each day of your life.
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