Stumble Upon Magic

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We all have a place where we find magic. It might not always be in a place that makes sense, it may creep up on you, it may only reveal itself to you in its absence – but we’ve all found it.

I’ve found magic on my travels this summer. In the people I have fallen in love with, the places I have discovered, and the challenges I have overcome, something everlasting and pure and fizzy has bubbled under the surface of the everyday. I felt it in the air last night: in the brightness of fairy lights as they hung from trees, and in the furry skins of stuffed toy animals. I piled my bags into the taxi on my way to finding home, and I met a man who held a very different kind of magic.

The driver had a thick tongue that caught on the roof of his mouth as he spoke, and a lawn of midnight black hair wrapped around his lower skull. He gripped the steering wheel with an attentive hold, and would anxiously glance back to make sure I was comfortable, pointing out bottles of water and offering me gum.

Soon he began telling me stories about his past as a musician, his qualifications from Trinity College in England, his passion for the drums.

‘But I don’t play for the world anymore. I play for Jesus. I play for him.’

I am not a religious person. I don’t know if my faith would have a label, but if it did, it wouldn’t be Christian. I wouldn’t name a being called Jesus. I wouldn’t clasp my hands over rosary beads and mutter to the heavens.

But I am in awe of the faith that resides in those that do all of those things.

I asked this man why he stopped playing for the world, asked him why the world doesn’t deserve his music any more.

‘Ten years ago, my life did a 180. I was a bad man, doing bad things. I drank too much alcohol, and I smoked – oh I smoked 80 cigarettes a day. Soon, everyone hated me. My wife, my children… they only stayed because I had money.

Then one day, during a rehearsal, I fell down with a heart-attack. For two days I lay in a coma, and while I was unconscious I had a vision. It was Jesus. He came to me and said ‘I want you. Come to me.’ When I woke up, I told my doctors and my family. My wife was always religious and she cried on my face. They ran tests and found no nicotine in my blood, no alcohol. I don’t care what scientists call it, I call that a miracle. Jesus brought me back and gave me new blood.

‘Every day since, I play in the Church. I serve. I don’t play for the world any more, but I do serve it. I make sure people like you get home safe at night, and I play them my music, and I tell them about God.’

So it was at midnight last night that I found a new blossom of magic on the freeway to home. I saw this man and I felt that buzzing feeling when he spoke. Something extraordinary was thrumming behind his words; that something that I had felt earlier in the lights hanging in the air. Like me, that man knew magic existed.

And like me, he was going to hang on to it as hard as he could. 

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Who needs matching socks?

Time can have a damaging affect on a couple. Not necessarily because of the two involved, but because of what goes on around them.

Time can steal away what makes you you.

* * *

This past year and a half has proved to be more than challenging for me and le man. With life throwing more than our fair share of rubbish at us, we’ve found ourselves having to deal with issues that older couples than us would struggle with. We’ve not been able to catch a break, with one thing after another hurling itself at us, trying with all its might to batter down the barricade we had built up around us.

And for a while, we’ve been in a state of giving up. We surrendered to the trials of Time and stood, mouths open in vague shock, limbs frozen in an ice block of stone, while bits of ourselves were chipped away in the onslaught.

The problem was not the things we had to face. We faced them with bravado and gumption, and came out the other side changed – older, wiser. In that respect, we were a strong couple. A triumphant couple, standing the test of Time.

But it’s not just about longevity in a relationship. Our real problem has emerged in the aftermath: over Time, we lost the little bits that made us the individuals we fell in love with in the first place.

Le man stopped playing the games he loved, and watching the things he enjoyed. He stopped drinking in the pub with his friends and getting Chinese take-out. He stopped surprising people with visits and laughter, and stopped driving any place new to look at the stars.

I stopped spending time with friends, and writing and reading in the sun. I stopped staying up late, talking until the early hours about increasingly obscure topics. I stopped singing in choirs and dancing in thunder storms.

Now neither one of us are ourselves, and as a result, we have stopped being US. 

We are stuck in a state of limbo, loving and not knowing each other. We are lashing out and saying hurtful things…ultimately I think, because we miss each other. These past few days have been full of conversations, of letters written to each other by shaking hand, of tentative promises filled with hope, and embraces by starlight that are slowly knitting us back together.

It is so easy to be swallowed up by time, to allow your own individuality to disappear amongst the beauty and intricacies of you as part of a couple. It is easy to stop being a me and become  a you and me. It is what drives a wedge between people, what seeps into the purity of love and poisons happiness with resentment. When you are faced with it, it is a Mount Everest, it is Dante’s trip through Hell and back, it is a deep sea dive with no oxygen to buoy you to the surface. But in reality, it is simple.

Stop tip-toeing around the relationship. If you aren’t working as a unit, maybe that’s because neither of you are working as a singularity. Don’t walk away from the love, just get out there. Go and find out who you are.

And then run back to the one you love to tell them all about it and share that new nugget of you with them.

You don’t have to be identical in order to work. Two mismatched socks work just as well as matching – and in fact, they make a much more interesting statement.

So this coming week, I am going to share a cocktail with my best friend and sister. I am going to dance in any storm that comes my way. I am going to sing along with the radio in the morning. And then I am going to run into the arms of the man I love to tell him all about it, and laugh until the early hours of the morning.

Hell, I might even wear a funky hat. Just to lighten the mood.

Hell, I might even wear a funky hat. Just to lighten the mood.

* * *

Time can have a damaging affect on a couple. But a couple? A couple can fight back and heal.

A couple can become reborn.

Where is your God?

In modern society, faith is questioned by everyone, be they scientists, priests, businessmen, adventurers or even young children. It is no longer accepted that there is a God watching over us, protecting and guiding us through everyday life. There are no longer intricate depictions of Satan smiting us for our sins or of Angel Gabriel singing ‘Hallelujah!’ on the walls of our schools. Instead we are turning to experiments, DNA, evolution, rockets sent out into space and the Big Bang for our answers.

Fact is becoming the new God.

I have been raised by parents who follow a religion and who made it a part of who I am today. I am proud of my faith. As I have grown I have strayed from the path of absolute doctrine and find my own answers to spiritual questions. If challenged, I will defend what I believe in-in spite of the ridicule or surprise I’m faced with.

But, as with anything in this life, there are times when even I wobble in my determined belief.

So what do we do when something happens to us that makes us question the very fundamentals of what we believe in?

With all the beauty that life presents to us, we are shocked when ugliness invades. It filters through our routines, worms into our thoughts and takes hold, spreading like black ink in a glass of water. We are left with something impure, polluted and shocking. And how can we be expected to stand steadfast in the face of evil and thank a God for our suffering?

Today is a day I can’t stand firm. Today is a day I can’t take comfort in a belief. Today is a day I will not be thankful.

Today is one of those days when it feels as though we are just tiny inconsequential beings with no real influence on the universe; we have no control over love, life or death. It seems impossible to believe in something with so much power and so much love having so little regard for existence here on Earth.

It’s hard to find the part of myself that looks within for answers and finds comfort from something bigger than myself. I know deep down that Fact could never be my God; I know that there are questions that could never be answered by science; I know that I have a purpose and that I occasionally lose sight of it.

Although I know all of this…

Today is a day I can’t stand firm.

But tomorrow is a day I could try.