I am always baffled by the contradictions of life. The opposing forces. The yin and the yang. The pull between work and play. Calm and chaos. Laughter and sorrow. I wonder how can there be joy in the midst of sadness? How we can experience hope in the midst of fear? And yet so very often, we do. When I look back on the past year it amazes me that it was one of my best years on this earth in so many ways. And in others, it was one of my most difficult years on this earth. How can that be? How can two contradicting statements both be true? It feels like magic. I’m starting to think that living is little more than a lot of magic.
Tonight the clock will work more magic as it passes us all over into 2016. What a gift. A brand new year that is fresh and open and waiting. Waiting for each of us to find the wonder.
On the eve of Jackson’s last birthday he stood at the sink brushing his teeth. His jaw opened wide like a fierce crocodile as I took a turn scrubbing away at tiny teeth. With fresh mint breath, he passed inspection. As we were getting ready to leave the bathroom Jackson looked up at me. A full smile radiated up into his eyes as they arched into crescent moons. He exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m going to be four in the morning! I wonder what it feels like to be four years old…It might feel different, Mommy!” I smiled back and admired his curiosity. The magic of his expectant heart. The way he anticipated the wonder of a new day. A day that could hold anything, anything at all. Oh the wonder. Oh the joy. Oh the life.
In the days that followed, he made many declarations that implied he was changed magically as the clock ticked him over into four-year-old territory. According to him, he became a faster runner, he liked salmon and lasagna (unlike his 3-year-old counterpart) and he noticed that four-year-olds can even jump higher on the bed. He proudly demonstrated this notion while I fervently prayed for no broken bones.
This all got me thinking about the truths we create for ourselves. The images we project onto our abilities. My rational self knows that it is impossible to wake up a faster runner on your birthday. In time, there is only a second that separates the crossover between being 3 and being 4. And yet, that second has made all the difference for him. It turns out that it doesn’t really matter if any of his declarations are true. The very act of believing them to be true, is enough.
What if we could all hold promises for ourselves that we believed to be true for the next year, or the next week, or even the next day? What if we believed things about ourselves that inspired joy within us. Or hope or promise. What if that second between 11:59:59 and midnight held a bit of magic for each of us? I know when I turned 33 earlier this year, I felt much the same as I opened my eyes that morning. My hair, with its graying highlights, was piled into an angry ball, I was half blind, and my teeth were in terrible need of a good scrub. I was quite exhausted, a little dull, and feeling worn by time. This echoed how I felt at turning 32 and 31 and 30, though I probably had a few less gray hairs. The wonder was fading. I was missing out on the magic.
In truth, I often find myself floundering and exhausted at day’s end. Sometimes I feel like I barely survived. I spend excessive amounts of time herding children into their beds, I have unidentifiable substances covering my clothing (peanut butter? toothpaste? yesterday’s breakfast? I don’t know?) and all I feel like doing is collapsing onto the sofa and listening to absolute silence. Some nights I relive horrible episodes from the day, such as carrying two flailing bodies that scream fiercely out of the YMCA as I juggle and spill coffee along the sidewalk with each embarrassing step. Sometimes all I can think about are all moments I messed up, wasn’t good enough, or failed completely at multiple endeavors. Sometimes all the wonder feels far and away.
But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. What if tomorrow, I woke up knowing a different truth. Feeling the wonder and awe of all that was in store for the coming year. What if I believed this was going to be my best year yet. This was the year I would qualify for the Boston Marathon, the year I’d pour myself into yoga – feeling mindful, peaceful, strong – the year I would make a friend, learn a language, write a book, the year I would find myself becoming more like the girl I hope to be.
This all excites me to no end. Because even though the day is ending, tomorrow has not yet started. All the wonder of a new day awaits. There is so much left to live and love and think and become. And all because of one four-year-old, I can’t help but wonder if I, too, will be a little bit faster in the morning. After all, 2016 might just feel a little different!
Oh the wonder. Oh the joy. Oh the life.
It is magic.