I’m pretty much the best uncle in the world. I learned a little coin trick years ago and now my nieces think I’m David Copperfield. Here’s how it goes. I hide a few quarters around the room. A coin under a cup, on a lamp, and behind a cushion. Then I gather the girls around, and using a little trickery, I make the coin disappear (usually I just drop it in my lap). Then I say the magic words and make the now invisible coin fly through the air and magically reappear under the cup or cushion. Amazing! The crowd goes wild, I’m pretty much ready for my Vegas debut, and voila, Uncle of The Year. Kids love magic and they loved to be amazed.
As grown ups, however, magic is hard to come by. We know that coins don’t travel through the air and David Copperfield isn’t what he says. There are no magicians, only illusionists and tricks. This world is not the wonderful and mysterious place we imagined. There’s only bills, taxes, and the same old routine.
Yet when I walk through the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in Calgary I still see adults looking for magic. Wide eyed photographers await songbirds and beavers. When they see beauty they stop and take it in. No smoke and mirrors, but awe and wonder all the same. In the background of this quiet oasis of nature you can hear the din of cars and the busy-ness of the big city. There is no magic in rush hour traffic. But for those meandering slowly through the park, eyes up in the canopy, there is a hint of magical expectation.
The secret to experiencing moments of magic as adults may not be in the pursuit of more things or gadgets that mimic those childhood feelings. The magical new car smell will always fade. The secret, instead, seems to come from taking what is ordinary, and looking at it anew. Slowing down, drawing close, and paying attention are all the techniques of the wonder-filled. Patience has a way of changing the way we see.
WB Yeats said, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” From flowers and dragonflies to sun-dogs and fireplaces, the world has beautiful things awaiting our amazed response. There are magical things, or people, living in your neighbourhood, too. Ordinary people who, if patiently allowed, hold within them beautiful wonder. From nameless neighbours to friends, the potential within our neighbourhoods is profound. Patience is a way of helping you to see them as more than they seem.
If we live with even the faint notion that something has the potential of being magical, beautiful, and sublimely mysterious, it will change the way we look out into our world. I know something about my neighbours; they are more than they seem. They are more loved, and more magical than I might guess.
May we patiently wait for our senses to grow sharper, to see a world full of magic. May we see the small wonders. May we see our neighbours. May we see ourselves. David Copperfield has nothing on a community of people with eyes to see the wonder and beauty in each other.