“Camera 1. Camera 2.” Wayne’s World still makes me laugh. There are some profound truths in that movie nested in some ridiculously hilarious moments. Many people miss the profundity of those little moments because they are focused on the silliness of it all. Same with SpongeBob. Therein lies some deep stuff. Don’t believe me, go watch the “Club Spongebob” episode with the magic conch shell.
Just like we can miss the deep truths delivered through comedy, we often miss the miracles that happen around us everyday, because we are caught up in, well, the trivial matters of living life (e.g. cooking, cleaning, going to work, fixing things, paying bills, shopping, caring for children). The miracles are there. You just need to pay attention.
I was meditating in my backyard the other day. I asked the universe for a sign, something that might help me in my moment of crisis. I opened my eyes and a bright green hummingbird was hovering in front of me. Hummingbirds are rare in my area. I could have just brushed it off as interesting and nothing more.
Yesterday, I went downstairs to get something, and I found my 20 year old son reading a textbook. Might not sound so amazing.
The very same day my oldest son was reading a textbook all by himself, unprompted by anyone, my 16 year old daughter picked up a pencil off of the floor. No one pointed it out. No one asked her to pick it up. She just did it. She bent over and picked it up. She didn’t even cheat by using her toes. Again, seems mundane.
If you knew these two young people you might understand the gravity of these two events. My oldest son (as many of you know) has suffered from genetic disorders and neurological challenges that have plagued his life with constant pain and struggle. School almost destroyed him despite his strong intellect. Not to get into too many details, but this young man wants nothing to do with anything that even remotely resembles school, and I don’t blame him. He does have a strong desire to learn more about music, music composition, and music technology. So, he has been taking a class here and there, mostly the hands on type. He enrolled in an electronic music composition class that, unfortunately, had a textbook and quizzes on the readings. I made no big deal about it (honestly, I am exhausted to the point of not even trying to “get” him to do anything anymore). I figured he would either do the class or not. He has NEVER read a textbook in his entire life. He has a ridiculous memory and relied on what he heard to get through school (or I read to him).
I could write a novel on the miracle of my son reading a textbook on the couch in the basement. My point is that I took in this miracle and let it cleanse every cell in my body. It was like I was given the most amazing spa treatment one could ever imagine.
My daughter also has her challenges that have us struggling to get her to care about anything besides what she might be interested in the moment. She has genetic issues, epilepsy, and sensory issues that are, well, off the charts. So, she spends most of her day just coping with energetic and sensory overload. For her to pick something up she may or may not have left on the floor is beyond our wildest expectations given her history. My husband and I just looked at each other in disbelief. Ian whispered to me, “Did you see that?” I just nodded. We were silent for quite a while taking in the fact of what she had done.
While the Red Sea was not parted, nor was water turned to wine, these are miracles as far as I am concerned. I could dismiss them. I could minimize them. I have learned that life can become quite the grind if we are not paying attention to the signs of progress all around us. The other benefit besides feeling invigorated is that I tend to make space for the next miracle.
For example, I might hold my daughter a little more capable based on the miracle I just witnessed. I might even raise my expectations, set the bar a little higher. If you have ever lived with a chronic illness or disorder, you understand how they can wear you down over time. You start out with guns blazing, then you start to notice the lack of progress, and eventually the drive to try anything to generate even the slightest improvement becomes futile.
Even therapists, professional caregivers, nurses, and doctors burn out. There seems to be too much energy expended for very little result. That’s where we all burn out. If we are trying, trying, trying, day in and day out, and we do not “perceive” any impact, we will give up. We come to believe we are beating a dead horse as my dad likes to say. It’s all in the perception though.
What if we were able to “see” the impact of our efforts? Truly. Unfortunately, Western society has taught us to ignore the mundane or small and only see the big, shiny, and impressive. You all have heard of “a million little things.” My husband and I value our relationship on many levels, and our favorite is the “million little things” that we enjoy. It is not the massive gift or the amazing trip (those things are great), but they happen too infrequently and, honestly, are not what makes a substantive relationship. If I could only enjoy my husband when we were in Italy or when he gave me a diamond, I might really struggle for the rest of the 355 days in the year. Who wants that?
Personally, I want magical every day. So, I started looking for it! And it was there all along. The hummingbird, the pencil, the textbook, and so, so, much more. Last night I was sad. My husband sat on the bed next to me and looked into my eyes and told me he loved me. That is a miracle. Someone loves me even when I am not all happy and pretty. Wow!
Like collecting sea shells on a beach, we need to start looking for the beauty that is everywhere. Even the tiniest shell can be breathtaking. If we do not really look at the little shells (only hoping to find a giant conch shell), we might be very disappointed by our sea shell outing. Little kids are great. They pick up all kinds of shells, even broken ones, and think they are awesome. Plus, they love all their shells, not just the perfect ones.
We need to step back into that mindset. Start really looking for the miracles and magic that exist in your life everyday. They are there. Even on the worst day. We just need to choose to look.