Standing in the middle of a path lined with wild flowers, and the sun blazing unforgiving on my face, I took the deepest breath of my life.
I inhaled pine and palm, sky, and lake. I concentrated on the beads of sweat dripping into the small of my back and acknowledged the pain in my right calf from too many fractures and Achilles ruptures.
I gave thanks to my body for surviving me. I gave thanks to my mind for surviving me.
I gave thanks that I was able to stand in this place, at this time, and take in that deep breath. I exhaled and forgave myself for the last year, for my failures, for everything I put myself through.
How does one come to this place? The place in life where we have to choose between what feeds our souls and what we have to do to feed our families? Why was it ever necessary to make it a choice: one or the other?
Why do we take the simplest things and make them so complicated?
I want to:
>> climb trees
>> run on the beach
>> swing in the park
>> laugh and blow bubbles
>> go to the fair
>> feel the wind on my face from the back of a motorcycle
>> jump into a cold lake off a long pier
>> wander in a forest and find magic at night
>> pretend that lightening bugs are fairies
and skip rocks across a calm surface.
I want to roast marshmallows—and I don’t even really like them, but I want to feel the warmth of them smoosh around chocolate squares and smell graham crackers over an open fire. I want to play hide and seek. I want to cheat and peek through my fingers and count to 100 really, really fast.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 20, 55, 79, 100!!!”
There is no part of me that longs to sit behind a desk crunching numbers, no part of me that wants the harsh florescent lights of an overhead office to replace the warmth of the sun on my face. There is no part of you that wants that either.
So why do we do it?
Why did we make our lives so complicated? So unhappy? So demanding, just to survive in a concrete house with pretty bathroom towels we aren’t allowed to touch?
When did we decide that the logo imprinted on the vehicle we drive is more important than the imprint of our hearts?
This life is hard as it is. When did we decide to make things harder?
Heartache, losing a job, health concerns, divorce, struggling to make ends meet, raising children—all of these things present unique challenges.
Why did we stop believing in ourselves?
Why did we stop doing the things that made us happy?
When was the last time you pumped legs on a swing set? The last time you blew bubbles, just for you?
I realize that the world has been designed for us to believe that growing up means getting an education, and a respectable job, and becoming a contributing member to society—getting married, settling down, having children, and buying a house.
For some people, that is happiness.
But what about people like you and me, who aren’t content with following society’s rules for a happy life? What do we do to keep magic in our lives?
Here’s my best suggestion: make time to find wonder in everyday life.
My friends and I hold full moon masquerade dinners on the beach. We celebrate made-up holidays and create traditions.
We make it a point to seek out obscure festivals, embrace art and culture, and sometimes, we simply share pictures of sunrise or sunset from different vantage points around our small town.
You can find magic. You can find wonder. You can make anything memorable.
Set challenges for yourself.
Remember when you were a kid and you saw animals in the clouds? Do that. Look at the sky again the way you did as a child. See the world with fresh eyes every single day, and take nothing for granted.
In this new world of mass shootings, violence, and divisiveness, find something common and make it extraordinary.
Give thanks for every moment because this life is what we make of it.
We may not be able to go off grid and be kids again but we can remember what it’s like.
Why not hold your own full moon party once a month? Or challenge your friends creatively. Give them an opportunity to display talents they may have buried in boxes of high school memories. Have story night, light a fire, sip some whiskey and bare your soul. My girlfriends and I have potluck pajama parties just for the hell of it.
You can find ways to get back little bits of who you were before the world told you who you should be.
We all have the ability to capture tiny pieces of wonder like lightening bugs in a jar on a warm summer night—as long as we are willing to venture outside.
Author: Christie Page
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton