I love to read. Give me a good book, a rainy day, and a cleared spot on the sofa chair, and I could be amused for hours upon end. A good autobiography or a fictional novel. A book to teach me new ways to be a successful gardener or one that teleports me into make-believe. I’m not biased. I just love to breathe in the smell of pages in a new hardback and enjoy some time where my mind is wrapped up in things outside of my norm.
Going to the movie theater gives me the false sense of reality too. Whether it’s action-packed or a comedic romance, it doesn’t take much for me to shed a tear or get my heart racing as the heroine finds her love interest through a series of twists or through the thickening of the plot, some unforeseen and unfortunate happenings occur.
I’m probably not alone in some of my favorite selections to fill my past time. I think much of the human population probably enjoys these activities. As they should… they pepper your mind with new thoughts and new experiences. Yeah, I think I’m probably like most except for the fact that I can’t truly seem to allow myself the opportunity to take in the full capacity of each. You see, before I sit down to read a book, I open it – but carefully so I don’t break the spine or bend the pages – and as I flip through all of the pages, I take a deep breath so that I can breathe in what the author wants me to. And then I skip right past the first chapter to the last few pages, and I read those first.
Before I sit down to watch a movie, especially if it is one that I haven’t read the book for, I do my research or attack my husband with a thousand questions throughout to try to determine the ending before it makes its debut. And on top of that, as a child who dabbled in theater, I am analyzing the quality of each actor through each scene, determining who I felt did the best performance.
For some reason unbeknownst to even me, I can’t seem to just take a movie for face-value or give a book its fullest potential. Instead, I have to know the ending before I even meet the key players. I have to prep myself for a letdown if the protagonist takes a turn or if a sequel is on the horizon. I have to constantly look for the flaws in the production or question the quality of the theatrical skills. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy these experiences, but for me to appreciate them to their fullest, I have to do it my way…with a little preparation and a dash less of magic.
What is magic anyway? One Christmas as a kid I remember getting a magic set. I guess I thought that set came with fairy dust and an invisible cloak because when I found the instructions to learn sleight of hand or how to be a master of allusion, I turned in my career goal to be a magician. And speaking of Christmas, I wasn’t too surprised to find out that the jolly ole man you can find at every shopping center one month each year doesn’t make his toys from scratch or hand-deliver to every child by way of the chimney. Nope, he’s a guy, just like you and I, trying to make some cash so he can buy over-priced toys for his family during the holidays.
Before I had kids, I contemplated the day when I would have kids and actually thought about not celebrating holidays with make-believe characters. No Santa or the Tooth Fairy. No Easter Bunny too. But by power of suggestion and way of tradition, I opted to go with the crowd and follow societal norms. And boy am I glad I have.
I was due for a vacation, and our family of five had never been on one together. Some probably thought I was crazy with a capital “C” when they heard we were making the trek to Orlando, but I was determined that my kids were going to experience Disney World. If I’m being honest with myself, deep down I actually thought I was crazy too. But it was a means to an end. It was a way to escape my wild reality, spend loads of quality time with the family, and give me a few hours to sink my toes into Florida’s powdery white sand. Oh, and rob me of my life-savings as I paid for driving on nearly every road, for parking at theme parks after paying enough just to get in that I should take up some stock, and purchased yet another stuffed animal that the kids just HAD to have but will be forgotten in a day or two. But, who’s counting those things! It’s an experience of a life-time, right?
Yes, yes it is. And a magical experience at that.
If this family vacation taught me anything, it proved to me that after all of these years, my definition of magic was skewed. I thought it was making the impossible possible; turning nothing into something and something into nothing. I thought it was rabbit-hat pulling tricks or disappearing acts. No one told me that there was more to magic than that. But there is; I saw it first-hand.
Magic isn’t the unseen; no, it’s totally seen. It’s not invisible; in fact, it’s so visible it’s that’s crazy with a capital “C”. It’s not impossible; it’s totally possible and readily available. I found it the moment we stepped foot into our pre-scheduled lunch with our favorite Disney characters. I found it when, after eating a plate full of food that left much to be desired, the world-renowned Mickey Mouse locked eyes with my son and was drawn to our table like a fish hooked by a fishing pole. I was almost robbed of the magic when I remembered that behind the suit was a man, or woman, who was merely making money to pay their bills. But I realized that the magic doesn’t live in the costume or the dancing or the autographing, although all are pretty cool. But the magic was in my son’s eyes.
His eyes glistened in a way I’d never seen. His smile enlarged to a width was that unprecedented. I could see every muscle in his body tense up as Mickey neared, unsure rather to leap out of the chair or be shy by the fact that he was meeting not just anyone, but THE Mickey. And then Minnie Mouse made her grand entrance. My daughter was smitten as Minnie leaned down and kissed her on her forehead. I’ve given her countless kisses, but this one was special beyond words. Those few minutes that were shared with each character are moments you can’t prepare for. I mean, you can have your camera ready and your autograph book open to a clean page, but the magic… that’s uncharted territory.
The rest of our trip through Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios was mini replicas of our first character encounters. As we met Goofy, Donald, Pluto, Daisy, Ariel, Merida, Spiderman, Captain America, Curious George, Gru… as the list goes on, their magic tank grew. Eli had a skip to his walk and when he wasn’t pestering his siblings, he was in charge of sighting the next person we were going to stand in line to meet, hug, and get a signature from. And Lyndi, holding her princess wand tight, waited patiently as ever in each.
It was then that I realized why I would never rob them of Santa or any other make-believe character. The realities of life are hard and our world is calloused in so many ways. Until they realize that those costumes are merely costumes, I want them to have some magic in their lives. I want them to believe in the make-believe. I want them to understand that there are things that are possible when we think they are impossible and sometimes the most visible things are mirrors of the invisible. I want them to realize, one day, they too can make magic by gifting it to another.
At school Eli learns of God and Jesus. We frequent church each Sunday to hopefully instill the importance of faith in our lives. But their minds are young and their hearts so pure. Comprehending what most of us adults can’t seem to figure out is a challenge. Mickey and his friends are building upon the foundation we have set. They are helping my kids see that something that seems unattainable cane be reached, and touched, and hugged. He’s worth believing in as he’s real in every kid-sense of a way. I used to think that encouraging kids to believe in such ridiculousness only sets them up for letdown years later, but I’m now questioning if it isn’t the other way. If believing in these characters implants a sense of wonder… of awe-struck… of believing when seeing so that when we are charged to believe in what we do not see we are prepared to do so.
My kids and I experienced magic quite differently on this trip. The magic that engulfs Mickey’s castle was that which I could see through and poke holes at. But through the long waits and the sweat streams, one thing I couldn’t find flaws in was the magic that was planted deep within my kids that I plan to water so it grows. I’ll heed to the advice that the Lorax we met at Universal Studios said, “Unless someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
I owe it to my kids… and honestly to myself… to care less about how a book will end and start enjoying the plot. To stop analyzing the how and start believing the why. Because the journey is worth so much more than the conclusion and critical questioning can tend to distract and not allow you to fully live, and it definitely doesn’t let you live life magically.
Magic is all around us from the people we meet to the experiences we encounter. God purposefully positions these magical moments in our lives, but it’s our responsibility to be open to them. So toss away what you think you know; stop living from your mind and do so with you heart. Find your fairy dust …pull out your princess wand and if you don’t see the magic, make it for others. That’s our charge in this world – bringing happiness to others above ourselves. I promise if you do so, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you will be fulfilled in ways you never dreamed possible. Maybe then, you too will be able to fully experience the pure essence of magic!