365 Grateful: In praise of Magic!

365 Grateful 09-23-2019So, I’m in Kansas City on the last evening of a road trip for business. We’ve just completed three 4-hour group coaching sessions at one of the bureau’s sites, so I’m in a great headspace, satisfyingly fulfilled by the powerful experience. I’m also weary, but pleasantly so, from doing the kind of work that matters, that uplifts and enlightens. Work-life has been transmuted into work-fun, as it should be.

In addition to the coaching at hand (which I live and breathe, obviously), all road trips demand the rejection of any restaurant also available at home. Generally, that requires us to poll our audiences to discover local favorites. We’re seldom disappointed.

This trip has been no different. From twisted farm food and Kansas City’s “best burger” to lip-smacking barbecue and now to Asian fusion, we’ve logged hit after hit after hit (although the barbecue at Jack Stack’s is the clear winner). Tonight, it’s quintessential Miller time … perfect for basking in the glow of work done well.

Tonight’s the Asian fusion. A little sushi, some pot stickers, tasty chicken satay. I reach for my glass of water, raise it to my lips and do a double take. There’s a single black straw the server placed in the tall, well-iced drink. OK, that’s expected. Lo and behold, there’s a second straw that’s attached itself from top to bottom of the outside of my glass. And it doesn’t move, even when the glass is horizontal. And, well, it’s weird, is what it is.

But after first noticing it, I laugh out loud at the how magical it appears in that moment. Unbidden, a quote I’ve recently read from German theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart wafts through my brain:

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Boom! I know what that straw means: I’m on the right path as I begin to work toward a transition from the world of work and into the wonder of my own external coaching journey. Trust the magic of beginnings, eh? Well, how much clearer, how much more magical can something be?  I’m at the beginning of a transition, however long it may take. And, yes, it’s good, and it’s right. And it’s also magical.

Do you believe in magic? I mean, we talk all the time about something being magical, about the magic of something unexpected, about how something just comes to us unbidden like, well, magic! But do we really believe it? Are we able to suspend our disbelief and allow ourselves to be awed? Or do we remain skeptical, certain that logic will explain it all, that it’s a ruse, that it’s not real, or there’s some normal scientific reason for something.

OK, so I realize the condensation on the outside of the nicely iced water in my smooth clear glass has something to do with the black plastic straw clinging to the outside, even when the glass itself is tipped a bit. I know that, right? But I think I prefer to enjoy the magic of that moment. A bit unexplainable. A sign, perhaps, or a moment of wonder at this phenomenon.

You know, children have an amazing capacity for awe and wonder. Adults, not so much. But what if we could keep that sense of wonder and enjoyment when something magical happens? A butterfly alights on our nose. A leaf drops as if choreographed into an outstretched hand. A wave passes over the sand and erases any trace of footprints. A straw clings to the outside of a glass as if it were glued to it. There’s something magical about each one of those things, and yet each one is so easily dismissed, explained away, taken for granted.

Tacked on the wall above my monitor at work is an image I absolutely love. In a stark pen and ink drawing, a father with stern pointy finger harangues his crestfallen young son over the total mess in the room. A curtain is flung over a chair whose seat cushion is angled off to create a ramp to the floor. Beside it is a dresser with its four drawers opened like stair steps, with two toy dinosaurs atop. Books zig-zag in a row along the floor. The side of the bed/crib has been released, creating an incline from the mattress to the floor with a large picture of a lion laid atop, and an overturned laundry basket sits beside a small stuffed bear. A toy robot stands at attention by the wall and, across from it, water slinks down another wall, a tell-tale empty glass sitting below the obviously dripping liquid.

But here’s the thing: below that stark image is another panel, brilliantly hued. The boy holds his dad’s hand, points to an utterly transformed room. Now we see what’s really there: a huge green brontosaurus overwhelms a small stair-stepped ancient Mayan temple, and a pterodactyl catches an updraft nearby. A lion strides royally down the ramp from a cage. In place of the curtains and chair is a thatched roof hut with a bed and pillow, and a full-sized bear looking curiously around. The empty water glass? Gone! And in its place a rain barrel; raindrops tracking their way to it. A moon glitters over the jungle beyond. There is no window, no wall, no furniture in sight. The row of books transforms into a picket fence; and Rosie the Robot busily works on something near the hut.

That, my friends, is magic. Some of us may have forgotten how to believe in it. Some of us may have decided that only logic is real. If we’re lucky, we have imaginations that run amok; we still believe in magic.

As for me? I agree with the late author Terry Pratchett, who wrote in one of his Discworld novels: “It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.”

Amen. Magic is magic, whether you know the secrets or not. So suspend disbelief once in a while. Take time to find magic wherever you are. Seek it. Allow awe and wonder to have its place in you.

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