On my morning walk, in the midst of the dark, brisk chill, I saw a falling star. The surprise and the beauty of the moment took my breath away. I immediately whispered, “that was magical”. The cascade of thoughts that followed led to this post.
Magic is that which is beyond understanding.
Try that definition on in your mental wardrobe for a moment.
Life is deeply complex. Even more complex is our experience of life. We look at, and try to understand, the mystery of it all through various perspectives. Collectively, those perspectives become studied and practiced disciplines: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judiasm, Paganism, biology, psychology, sociology, astronomy, mathematics, creative arts, anthropology, etc.
Each of these disciplines offers a different view on life (and often, death). Those that we are made or choose to study form our understanding of the big picture and of our mundane moments.
I was definitely raised in a logic-based household and environment. I learned to debate with my father, exploring ideas that may have been vague but that demanded further understanding. Politics, religion, moral issues, what happened at school that day - nothing was off the table. But the conversation was often wrapped up (i.e. “won”) by the person who understood the most - who could offer facts, reason, and paragraphs of information supporting their claims. “I don’t know” were the white flag of surrender.
My mom took us to church where we were introduced to more vague ideas. There were still answers and guidelines, but they were far different from the logical ones we debated at home. “I don’t know” was okay to say, but it was encouraged that we turn to the Bible in order to find the answers.
And then there was school - where “I don’t know” meant a failing grade. The entire point of each day was to get to the point where you DID know and could repeat that knowledge through a test.
Curiosity was acceptable in all of these realms so long as you were moving towards knowing, towards understanding.
It was the unquestioned rule in all areas of life, at least in my culture, that answers were more important than the questions. Searching, exploring, wandering, tinkering, playing - all were seen as “less-than” activities.
Even in the midst of all of this, something within me clung to the siren call of mystery.
Something within me longed to just be within the uncertainty of it all, to question not in order to find answers, but just to see and experience it all through different perspectives - to FEEL how life could be, not to just understand it.
Over the years, I’ve discovered something that still makes me giggle:
I am ignorant about so much. And so are you. And so is the barista, the CEO, the celebrity, the politician. Anyone you despise and anyone you idolize - we are all far more un-knowing than we choose to admit.
This is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of cool. There’s more to learn! More to explore, more to feel, …. more to live.
Maybe we just need to give up our obsessive clinging to needing-to-know.
(Or maybe we just need to loosen our grip, just a little.)
Maybe we need to remember and cherish that which is beyond understanding - that which is magical.
We know how twinkling Christmas lights work, how to hang them, plug them in, how we pay the bill for them each month. But the experience of them can still be magical.
Same with the water running out of your faucet.
Same with the complex and integrated systems of your body.
Same with language and how you are able to communicate with someone sitting right next to you or across the world.
Today, try to find something that makes you pause and whisper, “that’s magical”.
You can decide from there if you want to move on or to understand it more. At the very least, you have given that moment a power of mystery, an invitation to yourself to explore and play and to be curious.
May you rediscover a bit of magic in your moments.