Everyday Miracles

miracle: a highly improbable or extraordinary event.

I believe in miracles.

No, not the kind where angels show up and do magical things. Not the kind where the lilting sounds of strings betray a majestic happening. Not even the kind where a fairy tosses dust that makes everyone fly.

I believe in honest-to-goodness down home miracles. The kind where people who have been estranged for years reconnect. The kind where “Odds be damned! We made it happen!” The kind where the little people triumph over the big ones.

I believe in everyday miracles.

But miracles take work. No one just sat around and complained about something, did nothing to make a change, and things happened anyway. No one just wished upon a star and things magically changed. That’s not the way the world works, and I wouldn’t want it to anyway. Because when we get things that are not the substance of our efforts, we tend to take them for granted. Or lose them. Or both.

Miracles take work because life is work. I have a friend who often says, “I’m not a pessimist. I’m a realist.” And I appreciate her assessment of her situation, but I don’t think it’s true. Being a realist means having room in your mind for those inexplicable, improbable events that color life in the most spectacular of ways. Because that’s real.

Because everyday miracles happen all the time. We just have to be doing our part to make sure we don’t miss them.

Sam

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The Diving Board

diving-board-after2-1024x576The diving board stretches out over an expanse of ground that should be a swimming pool. There should be cool, clear, sparkling water at its edge instead of the light blue turf that otherwise adorns the space in its rectangular glory. At first glance, upon driving past, it appears to be a standard swimming pool, its color a trick of the eye, but day after day, in peripheral glances, it eventually becomes obvious. And for some reason, at some point, someone must have thought it aesthetically pleasing, feng shui for dummies as it were.

I try not to swivel my head when I pass these days, because it just makes me sad for some inexplicable reason. Maybe it’s because I can imagine the home owners desperately wanting a pool but not being able to afford it. Perhaps it’s because I can see them inheriting a home with a pool in so much disrepair that it wasn’t worth trying to save. So they bricked it in, but they didn’t have the hear to make it a patio.They wanted to pretend, and I know a little something about pretending.

I should get it, but I don’t. I should understand their motivation, but I can’t. All I can see is the board stretching out over nothing but shattered dreams. I want to stop there sometime, to walk out onto that board and watch it shake with my weight. Perhaps some kind of magic might transform the blue turf underneath into a deep abyss. I can even now see the breeze rustling the surface of the non-existent water.

And I realize that in my own strange way I am them. I am the home owners who could have had something special and were forced to settle for something not quite the same. For me, though, it’s not this diving board. It’s not this imaginary pool. It’s the sum of my own life decisions that have brought me here. I am settling in my soul for something less than what I want from myself. I am reticent to get out of my comfort zone, to take that metaphorical dive.

So I want to get up on that board sometime, to look out into the possibilities, to stare down my own acceptance of what I can change, and hope I don’t get caught.

Sam

As Big As Bill Cosby

The Cosby Show

When I was a kid I wanted to be famous. I wanted the whole wide world to know my name, and not just for fifteen minutes either. I would look on TV and see stars like Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld and I wanted that. People used to tell me all the time that I was funny, so in my mind it wasn’t that much of a stretch to be my heroes. Those two guys were the height of funny, and I would practice my “set” for anyone who would listen. One day, I said, I was going to be on TV. People would know my name.

And I was on TV too. When I was in 7th grade I was on the Disney Channel telling a prepared joke. It was for one of their “in between shows” segments where they used to have real kids tell real jokes. I can’t remember what it was called, but I was fascinated when I walked into the Philadelphia Museum of Art and saw all of the cameras. I guess I had never really thought of the fact that in order to be on television you would have to be in front of cameras.

They gave me a joke well ahead of time. It was on a piece of paper, but they said I would have to read it off the teleprompter when my turn came, so that it seemed natural and so that I was definitely facing the cameras then. They showed me the teleprompter, which was a fancy TV screen beneath the camera that was facing me, and I watched in fascination as the words magically appeared on the screen.

seinfeld_on_stage1-667x368Then I had to wait around because there were kids from other schools there to do the same thing I was about to do. I didn’t pay attention to them, though, because I knew I was the “star” of the show. I knew my joke was better than theirs, that people would remember me most of all. I was delusional, but aren’t all kids? It was finally my turn, I read off the teleprompter, and the screen went dark. It was over.

Was I going to be as big as Bill Cosby? Was I going to be as funny as Jerry Seinfeld? Were people going to start calling up my mother and asking if I was available to star in their new shows? It all flashed across my mind’s eye on the way back to school after it was all over. The Disney Channel folks said I had done a great job, that I could tune in that next Friday to see myself on TV.

I set the VCR to tape my magic moment. I was giddy all week, telling everyone I knew that I was going to be as big as Bill Cosby. They cheered me on like my own support group, and I dreamed of signing a big TV contract in the near future. My joke had been funny, hadn’t it? My performance of it had been electric, hadn’t it? I chewed my fingernails down to the quick with anticipation.

Then Friday came, the show was copied, and I got home from school ready to see my magic moment. I fast-forwarded through the real show, and then there I was, but it wasn’t like I thought it was going to be. I looked wooden, like a deer in the headlights, and you could tell I wasn’t looking into the camera, that my gaze was underneath. As a result the joke fell flat, even though it was followed by a laugh track. Then it was over.

It hit me in a rush. I wasn’t going to be as big as Bill Cosby after all. I wasn’t going to be the second coming of Jerry Seinfeld. I was going to have that one moment on TV, the not even fifteen minutes of fame that accompanied it, and that was it. Maybe someday there would be more appearances, if I was lucky, but the odds were they would be as small as the one I just had. That was the sound of the air escaping the balloon, the sound of my dreams shifting to accommodate the encroaching shadow of reality.

I realize now that it was okay. That it was never my fate to be a TV star. I may still be destined to be famous, but only time will tell. For now, though, I’m still glad I had that initial experience, because for a moment in time I was on TV. And back then that mattered a lot.

Sam

Premonitions

“Oh, my life is changing every day, in every possible way. And oh, my dreams. It’s never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems.” -The Cranberries

_dreams_by_devilish_premonitionI had this dream last night, and in it some people had broken into my car. I don’t remember where it was parked, but something tells me it was at the mall, in one of the outside slots, where the eighteen-wheelers like to park across several spots at the same time. I’m not sure why it had to be there, but of course that made it more appealing for thieves. And I couldn’t recall if I had locked the car or not, if it was a passive break-in or an active one, but I sensed that somehow I had locked it and they had smashed in the back window with a crowbar or some other such implement.

I’m not even sure where I was when this was happening, but I showed up moments after the thieves left. I could even see their own car pulling away, but I didn’t have my keys so I couldn’t follow them. They were driving away but looking back, taunting me because I didn’t have my keys. Then one of them, a sandy-haired youth, tossed the ring of keys out of a back window, and then they were gone. Just disappeared, car and all. I went to grab the keys but they weren’t mine. In fact, they were a set that kids play with, the large plastic multi-colored keys. And I remember feeling stupid that I hadn’t realized I had brought them instead of my actual car keys. Of course they belonged to the baby, but if you had asked me what baby I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.

Then I went back to check out the car, to see what other damage they had done besides bashing the back window in. The passenger side doors were wide open, open even wider than they can actually go, and the car looked pretty immaculate inside. Nothing seemed out of place at first glance. They had even brushed the glass off of the back seat and I could see the shards glittering against the pavement. Then I noticed that my iPod was missing, and I broke down in huge, gasping sobs, knowing that my world was over. Continue reading “Premonitions”

The Loss of Possibility

NeverEndingStory-LastOfFantasia
“Bastion, Fantasia is yours.”

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

Too many people these days disregard possibility. They spend so much time focusing on the now that they lose sight of the future. They forget that things we do now affect our future. It’s why regret comes in waves and knocks us down when we least expect it. I remember when I saw The Neverending Story for the first time, and I identified with the poor creatures and people in Fantasia who merely want to be acknowledged again by children and adults alike, by people who have lost their imaginations and their will to dream up things fantastic. I identify even more now with those creatures and people now than I did back then. The Nothing is taking over our world. Continue reading “The Loss of Possibility”

Sam’s Friday Top 5: Dreams

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As human beings, we have a plethora of dreams on any given night. Some we would characterize as nightmares, and some we would just call pleasant diversions. Often there are many that we don’t even remember, but usually a common theme comes through in our dreams. Have you noticed that in yours? Common themes are oftentimes things that are on our minds, that we’re focused on when we’re conscious. Then when we sleep they’re still there, waiting to attack our subconscious brain functions, or our dreams. I have several reoccurring dreams, and themes, that just keep coming back to my mind when I’m asleep. Here are my top 5:

5. I’m eaten by a bear.

Generally I’m with a group of friends (Hey, it’s a dream. I can have friends in my dream) around a campfire in the woods, when suddenly this huge grizzly bear comes out of the thick canopy of trees, just barges out into the clearing and everyone scatters. Everyone except me. I’m always sitting there transfixed until the bear just comes right up to me and eats me. Each time it’s different, but the end result is the same. I’m eaten by a bear. And I’m not sure if it’s trying to tell me that I’m afraid of bears, or the woods, or what, but it’s quite visceral, and I always wake up from this dream sweating.

4. I’m jumping off a building.

I know. You’d think this would be a nightmare, but it’s not. It’s actually one of my better dreams. I’m on top of a very high building, but somehow not a skyscraper. I have no idea why my subconscious makes the distinction, but it does. And I’m looking down, thinking about how high it is, when suddenly I jump right off the edge, as if I have wings. But I don’t have wings, and I’m plummeting to the ground, but it’s a good feeling, like this rush of air just pushing past me. I feel really calm throughout, but I never touch down. I usually wake up when I’m about halfway down. As with the bear dream, I have no clue why this one comes to me either, but I know I’m afraid of heights, so it’s kind of ironic.

3. I’m getting a root canal.

Don’t ask me how this one shows up. I don’t even know what really goes into getting a root canal. I’ve never had one (Phew!), and I’ve never seen one being done, but somehow my subconscious seems to focus on it. I’m sitting in the dentist’s chair for a routine visit, and it’s almost over when he looks into my mouth, frowns at the nurse, and tells me I need an immediate root canal or I’ll die. I freak out and try to get out of the chair, but they strap me down “asylum”-style and they have their way with me anyway. When it’s over I have no life left in me, but they always tell me it went just fine and they let me go home. But I don’t leave. I always just sit there drooling. Hmmmm. Odd. I really don’t want to ever have to get a root canal.

2. I’m going on a date.

This one is pleasant, but strange. No one has any faces in these dreams, and it’s always a different girl each time. I have no idea how I know it’s a different girl when none of them have faces, but I just know it. Anyway, each time is also a different place. Sometimes we go out to eat. Other times it’s a movie (and I always remember which movie we saw when I wake up). Still other times we go for a walk on the beach, or we fly kites, or various other adventures. At the end of each and every single date, I know I get this weird feeling about kissing her goodnight (maybe because she has no lips, or whatever), but I always decide to do it. And always just before we kiss she disappears, and I’m left leaning into empty air. Sometimes I even fall. I didn’t really date much in my life, so maybe that’s why this one is reoccurring. Who knows? It is pleasant, though, even though I never get to kiss anyone.

1. I’m sleeping.

This one is the oddest dream ever, but it’s the one I have most often. I would say that in any given week I probably have this dream at least three times. It’s simple too. I dream that I’m having an out of body experience, looking down at myself sleeping. Sometimes I’m sleeping on the grass outside the house. Other times it’s on the beach (apparently I like beaches in my dreams when I could take or leave them in real life). Still other times I’m sleeping on a futon in a dorm room, or on my house roof. Apparently I can fall asleep just about anywhere in my dreams. A couple of times I even dreamt I was sleeping in my own bed, and it felt so real, the see-through spirit of me floating overhead looking down on me sleeping under the covers. Yikes, I don’t think I should have ever read that Lois Duncan book!

Sam

Friday Top 5 Archive

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