“And that’s when She realized… Fairy Dust was just dirt that she had taken the time to notice.”
Think back to That first time – that first time you experienced pretty much anything. Those were the good times.
Like your first time seeing snow. The cold did not chill you – it warmed you. Your ears burned with frost and excitement. And after the taste of your first snowflake, you declared that snow would always and forever be your favorite dessert.
During your first years, each day is thrilling; an adventure. Life is lived gazing upwards at what you will become, but you’re not yet tall enough to resist looking downwards at the details of caterpillars by your feet. And ants. And funny-looking twigs.
Each day is an inimitable saga of novel experiences. New words. New sights. Stars are for dreaming and puddles are for splashing.
But as life progresses, snow and sticks and stars and puddles become more mundane… days become more commonplace.
Take me, for example. I’m now approaching my 9,000th day of life. 9,000 sunrises. 9,000 sunsets. It takes a mind-blowingly vibrant display of colors across the sky to capture my gaze. Because it’s easy to become immune to sunsets; to take them for granted.
Actually… it’s easy to take everything for granted.
Every voyage on the subway used to be a study of human nature. But now? Now, I can drift through mornings surrounded by the subway crush, and yet I choose to disappear in my headphones. I can float through my week of classes and clinical work and go to sleep sighing with the knowledge that nothing extraordinary happened at all.
But that would be a lie. Extraordinary things do happen, it’s just that their novelty has worn off. Because after a while, even the most incredible things in life don’t scream beauty. They whisper it and wait for you to listen.
Last week, I gave myself a challenge to pay attention. To unplug myself and glance around and taste the subtleties of my environment.
And I found Hope. I found it in those moments which were not memorable enough to be written in my diary, but were potent enough to shake my soul:
It was in the soothing tempo of rain as it fell upon the roof. It was in the way I traced the descent of a single droplet down my car window.
It was the leaves that turned from green to fire to music under the conduction of my feet.
It was in the smile of that child. It was the guy who motioned for me to go first at the intersection. It was that random woman who complimented my shoes.
It was those bubbles. And the fact that someone brought them to the park.
It was in the breeze.
Hope was my nephew’s tooth being punched out of his mouth by his brother. It was the smile and pride mixed with blood and tears.
It was the way the scarf she lent me still sung the melody of her scent.
It was gazing around a crowded room and contemplating the mass of lives and stories that threatened to break down the walls.
It was waking up at 5AM, and realizing I still had two more hours.
It was throwing that ball with that child in the hospital as she squealed with joy. Back and Forth. Back and Forth. Because she’d been waiting for a transplant for a month. And this was her world.
It was finding the letter you wrote to me in seminary. Even though you were busy and had your own life.
It was in her laugh.
It was that girl who ran for the subway, and the guy who impulsively stuck out his hand to hold the doors. It is the fact that she caught the train.
It was that 6 mile walk home from the airport with my father. Because I traveled too late and the plane flew too slowly and Shabbos came in too early.
It was the smell of febreeze. And the scent of vanilla.
Hope was the flicker of those candles upon the table. It is the blessing my mother said over the flames. Said with calm. Said with faith.
It was the Salvation Army dude who smiled at me, even when I shrugged my shoulders apologetically. It was the fact that he continued to smile.
It was that couch. And the fact that I didn’t sit on it- I sunk into it.
Hope was the mother who mouthed the words of her son’s bar mitzvah speech as he spoke. It was in the pride that shone in her eyes. Because her son had suffered a stroke when he was 5 years old. Last year, he began learning how to read.
It was in reading an honest to goodness book. With pages.
It was the color of grass in speckled golden light. It was the feeling of the light itself.
It was learning how to play poker. It was loosing miserably soon thereafter.
It was the speck of glitter I found on my cheek.
It was the morning prayers that fell from my lips. Those prayers that teach me the path to happiness. To agelessness. To appreciation.
Modeh Ani Lifanecha: I gratefully acknowledge You.
For returning my soul.
For allowing my organs to work.
For the sunrise.
For the ability to see.
For the ability to get out of my bed.
For my upright body and steel spine.
For my clothing.
For my energy.
…On and on.
Every morning we open our eyes to thousands of gifts humbly presented to us without formality. But the fact that these gifts are constant does not make them any less miraculous.
It just makes them more so.
The happiest people’s perspectives never mature from childhood. From the way things look the ‘first time’. Their eyes remain wide at the flutter of a butterfly and the beauty of a deep inhale. They find that singular flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk and marvel at its determination.
They surround themselves with those fresh and non-jaded souls; they push themselves to remain sensitive to subtle excitements. And they never get bored.
These people don’t have everything. They just notice everything.
And they count their blessings. Every single tiny one.