It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
It was my last day in New York City. I was leaving Central Park to catch a Southwest plane back to Denver. Of course, on the last day of my trip, it wasn’t biting, make-you-want-to- scream-out-loud cold. It was spring, suddenly spring, suddenly this warmth that could make you forgive anything. I was in Central Park with horses with purple plume feathers clip clopping by, pulling carriages of lovers and tourists.
And I longed to hold on to the feeling, the feeling of such goodness, like your first great kiss or getting a call back from an audition. And then I saw the Bubble Maker. He was a scruffy man with a knapsack and red pants and he was dipping this huge dipper into liquid rainbow gloppy bubble goo and spreading it, making a long, big, iridescent glob of magic.
Yet every time I tried to snap a photo, I missed the moment. I snapped a blur.
I realized then. I am always trying to turn the miraculous into permanence. I don’t want to go through ebbs and flows or a stupid incubation.
I don’t want slow times in my business. A friend’s spouse suddenly killed by a drunken driver. Political unrest. A rangy mind.
I want to possess magic moments. I want to put them on a leash. I want to have enough money so that I can buy bubbles that will last. I don’t want the bubbles to ever burst.
Of course, this is not how life works.
Though it is what television commercials promise, if I buy the right SUV or medication. I’m led to believe I can have it. I’m led to believe others have it. In fact, others have perfect lives all the time and social media confirms it. That’s what my crazy, unsupervised brain tells me, even while I know cancer, accidents, and misfortune strike the rich and thin, too. But no, my mind tells me, they are partying in Ibiza, making trillions of dollars and dominating world stages. They have happy marriages crammed with Hallmark Christmases. Get this: They have husbands who are more caring than your therapist, your acupuncturist, your favorite barista combined. And their children weep with gratitude for them and never take opioids. I have the best mom in the whole world, she’s my best friend , they say with gooey eyes. My mind should never be unsupervised, I tell you. But this is why I’m ferociously dedicated to my spiritual journey.
Because the real magic of life is in daring to hope, while also daring to grieve, accept, and transform, when the goodness seems to leave. I’ve always been touched by this quote, from Ian MacLaren “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Yes, even your co-worker. Yes, even the people in commercials or on Instagram. We’re all on a spiritual journey whether we call it that or not. We are all battling unsettling demons. Yet we are all being given the opportunity to become remarkable through love —to choose our self-renewing strength over our diminishment. The world can’t do this for us. But we can do this for the world.
When I’m sane, which, thankfully, occurs more often these days, I smile with self-compassion for my needy, grabby, instincts. I am so adorably misdirected.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting unending joy.
It’s just that it robs my joy.
The Buddhists talk about how we create pain for ourselves by becoming attached to results. We resist the unfamiliar. We push away what we perceive as pain or loneliness or the lack of love. I’m still not sure how to embrace it all: certain disappointments, broken promises, jealousy, fear of the unknown. But I do know that it’s about loving myself more, acting with compassion for who I am and where I am. Because this Loving Intelligence finds me, an indescribable magnificence, when I let go of self-judgment. I may not yet be able to see the good in a particular circumstance, but I can choose to not toss myself into the alley of self- abandonment. This self-love warms me like the sun. This is a great start. This may even be the finish line.
And while I’m committed to accepting all of my life, it’s still my right and my responsibility to chase joy. There’s healing and awakening in my heart’s desires. I’m called to express and share my light. I am meant to be an illumination. And I’m here to seize the light because it’s available and it reminds me of who I really am.
I’ve read that in the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical text, there is the instruction to look for the sparks in the world , because sparks of holiness are scattered throughout the fabric. I teach my coaching clients to notice what is working in their lives and in the world. My mother once told me, “a happy life is about the moments.” My mother who had not traveled much in life or gone to “fancy places,” saved worn matchbooks from Italian restaurants or places I’d taken her when she’d visited Colorado. She crushed wildflowers into her favorite romance novel and collected pretty note cards. “I ate the best fresh cherries,” she’d say. “And they were on sale.” My mother was no mystic or rabbi. But in her way, she taught me about capturing holy moments.
I know the Bubble Maker probably went home to his small crammed studio apartment filled with books and a clanking radiator. Maybe it’s loneliness that made him take the uptown 1 train to Central Park and spread bubbles. At home, he’d folded his red pants up or threw them in a pile. He ate pizza or hummus or takeout Chinese. Maybe he journaled some wayward thoughts. Because even the man who makes the magic is sometimes longing for magic.
And I am forever grateful to him for sharing a spark of joy with the world--and for all who do. The Bubble Maker winged color and light and delight into the spring breeze and those bubbles are now embedded in some tourist’s memories, a child’s fantasy, an old man’s amusement.
Because beauty and hope are not permanent---but they are eternal. The form passes. The essence doesn’t. And that is why no act of love is ever lost
I hope you will follow your inspiration. You do not know who it will touch. You do not know who they will touch. You may think you’re sending bubbles into the wind. I think you’re completing the transactions of the holy.
Join Panache Desai every morning and for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
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