Love, Magic and Being Grown Up

16 12 2010

Many things about my childhood predisposed me to believe in magic.  The mighty Mississippi, limestone bluffs riddled with old lead mines, our proximity to the library which had an amazing children’s room.  Five siblings with creative imaginations, and parents who encouraged the use of them, also helped.  So I grew up believing in many kinds of magic.  Supernatural magic, such as Santa Claus, elves and pixies, wishing on stars.  Religious magic, like patron saints or my very own guardian angel.  And there was everyday magic: the longing induced by a lone barge whistle, snow falling softly through lamplight, the profusion of lilac blossoms in spring.

For most of my adult life, I’ve tried to hold onto the magic.  The tension between being a grown up (making decisions, earning a living, surviving the hard parts like illness and despair) AND a believer in magic is oftentimes difficult to resolve such that you can successfully be both.  I frequently get it wrong, and discover that I have ventured into territory in which one or the other is lost, to the detriment of my ability to function well.  If I am overbalanced on the side of “magic”, I stray into magical thinking and dreaming and lose the present moment in which to create my life.  If I stand too deep in the land of grown ups, I forget how to be touched by beauty and wonder, how to welcome grace when it enters my life.

Love can be an instructive example of what I mean.  In the grown up world, we learn to love in spite of weaknesses, human foibles, habits that we don’t care for (both in ourselves and in those we love).  Love is about learning where people are in life, then accepting ourselves and others exactly there.  In the world of magic, love is about soul mates who just get us, moments that propel us into a feeling of flow, our perfect selves connecting with another perfect self who dreams with us about all the perfect possibilities out there.  This is true for all kinds of love, not just romantic love.  Too far to the “grown up” side, and we lose the childlike joy that relationship brings; we leave out the “…and all” part of the phrase, leaving us with just the “warts…” part.  Too far on the magic side, and we end up in a lovely castle made of air, which may blow away at the first puff of rough weather.  Love needs both our grown up selves and our magic-believer selves.

Love has taught me a lot this year, both about being a grown up and about believing in magic.  It turns out that the magic of love happens in ways and places we don’t expect.  Sometimes we get one thing when we were hoping for something else.  The grown up in us needs to learn to be content that this is so.   Because every bit of it is miraculous, every incarnation of love is magic.

I was thinking about this at my friend Ryan’s birthday party last weekend.  He was a 19-year-old college student and I was a 36-year-old administrator when we met.  An unlikely pair.  Yet, words cannot express the depth of feeling I have for him — brother, colleague, co-conspirator all wrapped up in one big ball of love.  You will never convince me that is anything but magic!

So, I try to hold that old tension.  Try to be both grown up and believe in magic.  And really, now that I think about it, love in all its forms is the perfect melding of the two.

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9 responses

16 12 2010
Melissa

Thanks to you, Thursdays always have something special. I read each post, always better for it. This is great. For lack of a better word, I LOVE it.

16 12 2010
Tammy

I find myself looking forward to Thursday just so that I can read your blog. You have done it again, my friend, brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my skin. Thanks for another beautiful read. Love ya!

16 12 2010
jenion

Tammy, thanks for always having a kind word and heart that sees beyond what is said. You have been one of my teachers this year!

17 12 2010
carol erhart

Here Here Tammy! I too I find myself looking forward to Thursday just so that I can read Jenifer’s blog. Her blog is my new Sunday homily. Always a spirit filled life lesson learned and/or reinforced!

Thanks Jenifer~

17 12 2010
jenion

I love you too, Carol! It is always fun for me to get comments on the blog, but I love hearing from you in any forum!

16 12 2010
jenion

Melissa, I heart you too! If the word magic can be applied to anyone’s spirit, it would have to be yours!

16 12 2010
Kate

Jen, as always you made me think about life in a deeper way, gave me goosbumps, reaffirmed my belief in the world, and reminded me to be a better person than I was the day before. Your writing and your journey are “magical” and “grownup”. Thank you for making every Thursday brighter. You also help keep me on my journey. Love Ya!!

17 12 2010
jenion

Wonderful to hear from you, Kate! I’ve been thinking about you lately, hope to see you at book club?! As for reminding people to “be a better person than I was…”, that’s usually how I feel when I see you (especially the last time, when I saw you at work!).

17 12 2010
Steph

It is magic that he is lovable. 🙂 Just kidding. I love your posts as well.

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