There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. -- Albert Einstein
Of all the things my children were blessed with, curiosity is certainly the trait that brings home the prize. They never tire of asking questions, and charge everything with a genuine interest to learn something new at every turn.
Even if their unbridled desire to always find out different things delivers them occasionally at the doorstep of trouble, it also helps them fully experience every moment. Everything is ‘cool’ to them – from the colors of the sky, to the graphics of a new video game or the tart flavor of a piece of candy they have never tried before – everything is a way to see, hear, feel something new and record the sensation triggered by the experience.
A few days ago, my daughter and I went to a video store, and she picked up a package of sour-apple-flavored worms from the display at the check-out counter. Yellowish green in color, and coated with a thick sugary slime, they were about as appealing as a bucket of swamp water, yet Morgan walked out of the store proudly holding the loot in her little hand with a huge smile of accomplishment. When we arrived home, her brothers had just returned from school. Morgan ran out of the car and barged inside to show them her purchase which I thought would not excite them at all. I was wrong. They hung around her like starving men waiting for a morsel to save them from sure death. She opened the package, pulled out two flimsy strings of green candy, and handed one to each boy. Their eyes lit up, and as they opened their mouths to invite the disgusting little critters in, a flash of pure bliss spread over their faces. At that point I had to try myself, and asked Morgan for a nibble; never in my life have I tasted anything more disgusting – tart enough to paralyze my mouth in a twisted sneer, and overly coated with sugar to avoid being compared to poison, I quickly thought that the bucket of swamp water would have surely been tastier. The first thing out of my mouth – when I was able to move my jaw again to talk – was: ‘How do you eat this stuff?’
All three looked at me as if I had asked the unthinkable. “Are you kidding, Mom?” asked one of them, “this is the best candy ever; it is so tart it makes you shiver.” So that was the key! The candy wasn’t good, or bad; it was only intense, and a new flavor to add to their young collection of tasty knowledge.
I suppose I never thought of new experiences that way, and quickly opened to the concept that something not previously encountered is cool for that reason. I immediately thought of the movie Meet Joe Black, and particularly of the scene when Brad Pitt makes such a huge deal of trying a spoonful of peanut butter – something so ordinary to us yet so fascinating to a spirit simply because of its texture.
Every day we witness many miracles – the beauty of a sunrise, the striking, powerful sight of a stormy sky, the perfect color pattern of a flower growing alongside the highway, the smile of a child or the birth of a puppy – and at the end of the day, all we likely remember is the jerk who cut in front of us at the intersection, or the coworker who didn’t pull her weight and got extra recognition. We probably don’t think of the man who humbly held a door, the heavenly taste of a new piece of pie we tried at lunch, or the homeless man who taught us lessons of giving and acceptance just by standing at the corner when we drove by.
Thomas Holdcroft once said that life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us. Our lives are bejeweled with many small miracles if we can look past the patina of illusion and allow ourselves to find the sacred in the ordinary.