Thought Cookie: Edition 10: Vol. 2
416 Words of This and That
I believe in magical things. I have had magical experiences. I have been moved and shaped by the ephemeral moments of alignment and synchronicity in life. When I think of someone and they call. When I wish for something to happen or not to happen and it does. When I meet someone and know we have been connected at the soul for eons. When I enter a normal, everyday space and yet I feel its sacredness, and sense the pinpricks of light rush through the darker parts of my deep self. Recognizing magic in the world requires me to slow down, to attend to the present and to be watchful. Years ago, in a car with my brother and his friends driving around Oakland, California, we lost our way and were a little worried about how to right our course. Disoriented and late, we stopped at a gas station and my brother hopped out to ask for directions. He consulted with a down-on-his-luck man standing in front of the convenience store, had a quick exchange with pointed arms and fingers and nodding of heads, then, smiling, made his way back to the car with his usual spring of step. “He said we’re on the right track, we just keep going on this street, then we make a right turn up ahead,” my brother shared of the animated exchange. “He said, to, you know, ‘keep your eyes open.’” My brother paused, a bemused look on his face. “I think he meant like, keep your eyes open for the turn, but also in general, like ‘Keep your eyes open.’” We all nodded at the magic of the moment and the depth of truth it conveyed to us lost souls who were finding their way again that day. The memory of this small moment has stayed with me for many years. I think of the man who steered us right and I also meditate upon of the deeper soul of truth his words inspired in me -- the reminder to keep my eyes open in life. What’s magic about magic is that it occurs in everyday moments. Like when you are lost and a bit nervous in a strange city. Like when you feel a little forlorn about some predicament. Like when you are bored and life is falling flat. Life gives us plenty of opportunities to succumb to cynicism and abide in a dull place where magic cannot exist. When depressed and disillusioned I have visited those mirthless moments.
Reminder from the soul of truth: Magic is there for us to experience in each moment. But it requires our presence, faith and opened eyes.
Takeaway: How have you experienced little tidbits of magic lately? Where do you see snippets of transcendence?
^The Potter-esque library at the University of Washington, a magical place. 2019 photo by me.
Museums are magical to me. They are not just places for art. They are teeming centers of intersecting stories. Like this one: The son of a tailor born in the mid-18th century. Trained by a draftsman and engraver to be an incredibly talented painter. Wins prizes for his work. Moves to Paris. Marries. Is commissioned to paint a series of nine canvases of the Muses by a wealthy textile merchant who then goes bankrupt. Only five of the paintings are completed and eventually sold to a general who keeps them in his grand Swiss estate. The artist, and his wife, die of cholera in 1832. For 180 years, the five canvases are un-admired and forgotten. 1983. An art historian studying the artist finds the paintings while doing research for her doctorate. The found paintings, massive in scale, come to the attention of a conservator who has never seen their size, scale equaled. The conservator spends five painstaking years restoring the masterpieces in an often-dismissed midwestern city in America. Five years scraping off varnish with a scalpel and healing cracked canvas a centimeter at a time and delicately reinforcing buckling frames. Until, finally, the canvases created 200 years ago are seen once again. Their subjects shining, as if illuminated from within. Each tell their own story: the muse of eloquence, the muse of epic poetry, the muse of history, the muse of lyrical poetry, the muse of eloquence and Apollo. A woman, in her 40s, on a Wednesday afternoon in the 21st century, stands in awe of them, feeling the power of their magic, tears in her eyes.
^^ The Cleveland Museum of Art, April 2020, my daughter, admiring two of Charles Meyneir’s Muses. Photo by me.
From my bookshelves
I’ve known of Elizabeth Lesser for awhile. I’ve heard her interviewed on various podcasts I love. I picked up her book Broken Open on December 28 of last year, on the bargain shelf of an independent bookstore I adore (I know the date because I tucked my receipt inside so I could recall when it came home with me.) When I finally cracked its spine recently, I knew exactly why this was the moment for me to read her soul. Do you ever have that experience?
I hope you return to Thought Cookie on May 4, when I will share another freshly-baked batch. In the meantime, if this struck a chord with you, think of someone you love and, if you would, share it with them. Or share this post on your social platforms. I am grateful. If you’d like to ingest more of my writing, visit my full website.