Seeing the magic of everyday life

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”– Annie Dillard

I read these words this morning as the cat stood on my chest, willing me to commence her daily required amount of petting. It evoked some deep reflections on this snowy Sunday morning. We received about a foot of snow overnight. As I lay there, I was warm, loved, comfortable, and delighted by being in a place where snow is a part of my life.

It is so easy to forget all the wonder and magic in our surroundings. I realized yesterday that I had overlooked many details in the past week — the most egregious of which was forgetting to attend my children’s Holiday lunch at school on Friday — in my focus on finals’ week at my school. My work consumed my energy and attention completely, yet not so much that I missed the wonder in watching the local rivers freeze over and feeling the snow crunch under my feet.

It occurred to me this morning how much magic has transformed my life. The obvious magical occurrences of landing a new job (and what it entails) and relocating to a new area are in the front of my mind, and I give thanks every day for their presence in my life. The more subtle  changes in how we spend our days now is less apparent, yet profoundly different. My husband’s new job that places him in constant contact with a vulnerable population — those who transition from homelessness — has evoked a level of compassion that I knew existed in him, but had not witnessed so visibly until now.  My girls have always found joy, not matter the circumstances, but now I see renewed hope in their eyes. All kinds of new experiences that were once only wishes now have the chance to become realities. The hope and joy that I see in them is infectious.

Then there is my world. I had the fortune to attend my first graduation with my college yesterday morning. At my school, each graduate is allowed to deliver a speech as they receive their diploma. Some speeches reminded me of Academy Award acceptances, but one particularly touched me.  This graduate started sobbing as soon as she spoke, and I’m a sympathetic crier. Toward the end of her speech, she asked her mother to stand so we could all see the woman who had believed in her enough to make her graduation a reality. I don’t think there was a dry eye among any of the faculty present. The colleague who sat next to me  leaned over and whispered “that’s why we’re here.”  This magic — the ability to be touched so deeply by the people I serve — is what inspires me to teach these wonderful people. The teaching I do is harder than anything I’ve ever experienced professionally. more emotionally and mentally draining, and the most rewarding work I have ever done.

The other subtle magics of my everyday life convince me that I am truly blessed. I am receiving the gift of a new chance to enjoy life (in the form of a new knee) in two days. As I consider the possibilities of my new life, I think of the activities that I want to do, but had forsaken hope because of my disability. I also look at the smaller details: my purring kitty who is my constant companion, our apartment that is a perfect size and layout for our needs, the bountiful food that nourishes my family, and a community that genuinely cares about each member’s ell-being. These are all pieces of my life here that I could not have dreamed possible, but are part of me now. The potential of blessings to come, both professionally and personally, transcends my wildest imagination. I have seen glimmers already, and the beauty astounds me.

How do I spend my days? Much of it is in a state of wonder and bliss. Some of it is lost to pain and exhaustion. The pain is largely unavoidable, and I try not to allow it to impede my joy. The exhaustion? Since I earn it in the service of people I love and a profession about which I am deeply passionate, it is no bother whatsoever.

Where is the everyday magic in your life?Today's snow

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