This morning is bright and shiny, but it feels like a false promise—like those 25 cent plastic rings in grocery store vending machines that I always lusted after when I was small.
“Please, mom!” I would whine, soothed only by the feel of one hard quarter in my hand. Into the machine it went, and I turned the dial hoping somehow—even though I knew what I would get—somehow that plastic would turn to gold on its short journey from the glass bubble to me.
In the car on the way home, I would twist the ring disconsolately on my finger, the hard edges of its plastic pinching my skin. I’d stare out the window at the familiar trees and low stone walls rolling by, and wonder where the magic was.
Now I know better where to find it, even on brittle-feeling mornings like today when I’m sad for no real reason. I don’t have to wait for any alchemy, I just have to lift the shades and welcome in the sun.
Here are five places to find magic everyday.
1) In the breath.
The breath: our humble and constant companion. It’s there, always.
The breath reminds me of an invisible umbilical cord reaching out from the center of me and attaching itself to the innate power of all other living things. I draw in breath and with it comes nourishment, energy and love. I release it, and out goes negativity, darkness and all the toxic tar gumming up my chakras.
This basic transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide, the adaptation of a wildly proficient creature, is the crossroads where all the pieces of us meet; physical, emotional and spiritual.
Breathe in, breathe out. Magic.
2) In a tree.
I’ll never get over how weird and amazing trees are. There I’ll be, just walking down the street on any old afternoon, and this massive column of living wood is sprouting out of the ground like it’s no big deal. How can that be?
I know it started as an acorn or some kind of seed, but when and how did all this growing happen? It multiplies its cells at a glacial pace, so slow that no one even notices, and yet, there it is: a massive animated organism that reaches up toward the clouds, spreading its many fingered hands that drip with festoons of leaves and sometimes even flowers.
Surely this is magic.
3) In sleep.
I’m the kind of person who has vivid, crazy dreams with complete story lines which I can remember upon awakening. When I lay down at night, I look forward to whatever adventures my subconscious will concoct. Even if they frighten me, and they sometimes do, they are fascinating glimpses into another plane of my own existence—and I get to go there every single day.
Sleep is the one place where we truly relinquish control, and it brings us back each night to the essence of who we are; magical creatures who hold mystical worlds in the palm of our dreaming hands.
4) In the stars.
It was once believed that after we sent men into space, the night skies would seem mundane. We had traveled to the moon, what more could we need to know or want to discover as we gazed up toward the stars?
It’s true we no longer have the illusion that the sky is a dark cloth pricked with holes through which a bright light shines creating stars, but the idea that we live on this round and watery rock, spinning with a slight wobbling through black space is as bizarre, if not more so.
From our rock, there is no end to the contemplation stars inspire, beginning with their very origin, and science hasn’t made the slightest dent in their magical scattering.
5) In books.
Book confound me, and I’m a writer.
How can tiny scribblings on a series of pages become living breathing people, with emotions and dreams, who eat cakes and fall in love and witness death and have terrible secrets, that we, by virtue of standing outside the page, get to learn and puzzle over?
I have stacks and towers of books here in my house, and they are the merest fraction of all the books that have been written, and within each one are captured souls—not pinned like dead moths to a piece of cardboard, but vital—with opinions and influence over our destinies and ambition.
There are spells within these books that, when cast, can lift us effortlessly into places we would otherwise never get to go.
Each of these brands of magic start out with something seemingly mundane; air, seed, a shuttered eye, night, paper. From these plain ingredients arises a riotous explosion of experiences and ideas. If we pay attention, it is impossible to be bored.
There is enchantment in every nook and cranny of this exquisite life—even in the plastic rings a child believes might turn into gold.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Bojan Dzodan/Pixoto