I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Tolkien fan, and perhaps even that fantasy and escapist literature are my favorite genres. So it would come as little to no surprise that I believe in the possibility of things being more than they seem, or existing in a way that we may not be able to see with our own eyes. Sometimes there’s a little bit of something otherworldly in everyday life. I’m sure I don’t pick up on half of the glimpses of magic that life has to offer, but I try to occasionally bring to mind this line from Kurt Vonnegut, because I want to make an effort to pick up on them and soak them in: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is’.” That feeling of unadulterated happiness is the common thread in the moments or happenings that I find magical.
We live surrounded by a state park. The park is young as far as state parks are concerned, and here and there you can see remnants of past houses or springhouses, the bases of chimneys or the foundations of walls, existing as cut limestone among the trees and moss and fallen leaves. Scattered near some of these stones, daffodils sprout in early spring. They raise their cheerful heads on vibrant green stems, in rows and bunches, while the woodland floor remains covered in various shades of brown and grey, before even the earliest of leaves sprout from the barren trees. Sure, they’re there because of science and history and human intervention, but combined result is just a little bit of real life magic. I go on daffodil watch as winter ends, and I do admit to picking them (not all of them), and watching my son do the same.
A few days ago, he and I were outside playing. He had a tiny blue tractor with him, and as we moved from garden to sandbox to grass to gravel drive, we came to a maple tree beside our walkway. He settled in at the trunk of it, and I asked if he was going to do some work. “Mm hm, right here,” he said, gesturing to the roots. I followed his finger and saw a tiny playground of moss-covered stones, root-hills, pebbles and dirt patches, all in perfect scale with the tractor in his hand, as though it was just waiting for him to come along and play. Surely it would have gone on existing as an adorable microcosm if neither of us had ever laid eyes on it. It wasn’t created just for him. But the fact that it seemed like it had been, and that he had noticed it, was just a little touch of that everyday magic.
Western Pennsylvania spring seems to be abundant in glimpses of this buoying otherworldliness. With so much rebirth, renewal, growth, and change, perhaps it is no wonder. The magnificent thing is that the scale is so small with such a great impact: tiny buds on bushes making them blush pink; deep green leaves journeying from bulbs to push through blankets of late snow; tiny new animals skittering and fluttering about; the lightest of green leaves brushing the sky, striking to see after the starkness of winter.
I see everyday magic in more than nature. I find it in my husband knowing just what’s keeping me awake at an ungodly hour of the morning and telling me not to worry about it; in my precious boy teaching me all that I never knew about him with the new knowledge he gains each new day; in a surprise package from a thoughtful friend at what was, unbeknownst to her, the perfect moment; in an unexpected holiday appearance from a beloved family member; knowing you're in someone's prayers; in discovering a discount book that marries two of my favorite worlds; even in finding out that we have another year free of admission charges at the local animal park when I was all set to purchase an additional pass for our little guy – these things may be the result of planning or happenstance, but they are little moments that show just how sweet life is, how fortunate we are to live it, and how cherished are the people in it.
“I believe it is the everyday acts of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit). Such a simple concept, put into plain words that speak so much truth. The darkness doesn’t have to be a deep, unforgiving hardship for it to be lacking in light. It can be redundancy or monotony. The chink left by even a small occurrence or act of kindness can let shine a burst of beauty or happiness. Or magic. To notice the impact of those acts, and to perform them, has become a constant goal of mine.