Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Child's Play

At the begining of this month, I got to see a wonderful play called "Tuesday's with Morrie." Apparently it was based off of a book, which I fully intend to read in the (hopefully) not-so-distant future. It's about a old man who is dying teaching a younger man about life. A great thing the older man - Morrie - said in the show was that he didn't envy youthfulness because he had already been there. He said that he didn't need to wish to be twenty again because he could be twenty... or fifty, or thrity-three, or six... whenever he wanted to.

The past two days I have found myself frequently taking a page out of Morrie's book. Yesterday I found a book of Fairy Tales in the library (right by the spot where I found the Scottish Folklore volume). I finished my studying early, and so I ended up reading the whole thing (all 196 pages) that afternoon. It was the most worth while thing I did all day - maybe all week.

Until today, that is. Last week I made a grand discovery - a tree, right near the place where I park my bike every day, that looked like it should be growing in Neverland. It had dozens of smooth, curvy branches just perfect for climbing, and its leaves grew on vines that hung like curtains all around the trunk. Today, being in jeans and having a lunch break available to me, I went to this tree and climbed into the upper branches with my PB&J. It was the first time I had climbed a tree in earnest in many years, and it reminded me of climbing trees and rocks and playhouses and park sets with my younger brothers as a child. Despite much scrambling and scratching and burning muscles and stubbed toes, it was so worth the climb. I sat for half an hour on a sun-dappled branch in a cathedral of greenery, hidden flawlessly from the view of passersby, far removed from the world, and imagined. I could probably write three or four novels from the images that flashed across my mind... kingdoms of faeries... tree-dwelling youths not unlike Peter Pan's lost boys... castles of gold and emerald... It was with greatest reluctnace that I finally manuevered myself back to earth.

There is a point to all this - really, I promise. The point is that it is good for you to go back to being a child for a time. Even grown-ups are still very much allowed to blow bubbles in the backyard, or swing on a park swing until it can go no higher, or eat otter pops in the summer, or watch Disney movies, or snitch from the cookie dough when no one is looking. And doing these things will remind you of what the world was like back when you were that small... a new, beautiful, undeniably magical place, full of new wonders and joys to be had every day.

That's all I've got... for now. Til next time...   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stress Mangement 101

As you have no doubt noticed, Everyday Magic has undergone a change of color. This is because the official first day of Fall (or Autumnal Equinox) was last week. So we're changing with the seasons! You can probably expect something in a garish red and green come December. And maybe a few elves and some English carolers as well.

Anyway - to the point...

This blog post is for all of those high school and college students who end their school day wanting to either crawl into a dark hole somewhere or throw themselves off a cliff. However, those who do not fit in this category are more than welcome to read as well.

If you are one of those students, then here are my suggestions to strengthen your grip on reality and make your days a little more purposeful:

1. Count a Blessing. This has been my saving grace these past weeks as I've started this blog. There's always something bright and beautiful out there to enjoy and be grateful for. So take a few seconds to get out of the bumper-to-bumper traffic of life and enjoy something God has given you every day. It will help you remember that life really is good in spite of your workload.

2. Don't work yourself into the dust. Establish a time for study in which you read textbooks and write papers like a maniac. And when the time is up, PUT THE BOOKS AWAY. Don't touch or look at them again for the rest of the day. Go to a park, make cookies, read a novel, watch a movie, take a hike, spend time with a friend, listen to your favorite music, drive Provo Canyon and see the colorful leaves - whatever takes your fancy. As my eloquent, college professor father put it, take some time be a real human being again

3. Breathe - slowly and deeply. I'm told that often stress begins simply with shallow breathing. And besides that, functional lungs are yet another thing to be grateful for! Take it from a seasoned asthmatic, you don't know what a blessing it is until you have to fight for your next inhalation. So take a few deep breaths, review your plan for the day, get things straightened out in the synapses, and then go on with renewed vigour.

4. When you are having one of those just-shoot-me-now days, know that you are by no means alone. I've been there (in fact, I am there). I have many friends who have been there. And I can almost promise you that if your parents have been educated and are at least half human, they've been there, too. And there are probably a lot of people around you who are experiencing much the same thing. So think of them as well as yourself, and break from the ordinary to give a smile or compliment to one of your fellow men. It will make their day and most certainly improve yours, I guaruntee it.

Til next time, my friends...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Buried Treasure

The written word is a marvelous thing. It is mere paper and ink, yet contains more magic than anything else in today's skeptical world. Walt Disney once said, "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."

For those who are unfamiliar with the Harold B. Lee Library, there is a spacious room in the bottom-most basement level called the Social Sciences and Education section - I have visited this place because I happen to have a locker there. Compared to the more spacious parts of the library, this room does remind the scholar that she is, in fact, underground.

I was meandering through the European shelves in this section a couple days ago. I had no real purpose save to observe, but to put it in Disney's terms, I accidentally struck gold. I came across three little leather-bound books dating back to 1889 containing the folktales and legends of three northern European countries - all remarkably available for checkout. I took the first - from Scotland - back to my apartment. For the last week I have spent a little time every day in the Scottish highlands, dancing with the faeries, howling with the ghosts, and talking with the ancient ones of the river side and mountain towns. 

Books have always held a certain allure for me. It has been said that "Books are a uniquely portable magic." I couldn't agree more. I have travelled more, seen more, done more, and been more between the pages of a book than I could ever have hoped to accomplish in the real world. I have even continued the adventure in my own writings, in which a blank Word document is my "in the beginning" and I am free to create worlds. It is the nearest thing to true magic that I have ever experienced. 

As the Scots put it, may the wind be ever at your back! 'Til next time...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Sweeter Things

I hope that eveybody reading these words can honestly say that they enjoy food. I truly feel sorry for those individuals (particularly over-thin models and the like) who do not. One does not have to be obese or overweight to do so, either. It's just a matter of appreciating what you have - and one of the things that we Americans have in bounty is food. There are so many people in the world who are lucky to have enough of anything to fill their stomachs - nevermind whether it tastes good or not.

The reason I bring this up because I got to appreciate one of my favorites today - a piece of chocolate cake, which I shared with my dad. I throughoughly enjoyed every bite. I don't want this to make me sound greedy or pig-like in any way. My point is that with that there is an ongoing trend in the U.S.A. primarily toward dieting and being excessively skinny. I'm totally in favor of healthiness, but I am not at all in favor of not enjoying what you're eating. And of course, one must always be moderate in one's dietary habits - but every now and then it is encouraged that one indulge in one of those little favorites. And when you do, savor it! It is always a pleasure to enjoy one of the sweeter things in life.

This time of year, I highly recomend the fruit - peaches, pears, nectarines, apples... My little sister likes for me to tell her a certain french fairy tale called "The Three Sacks of Truth," which begins with a selfish and greedy king going on a hunt for the perfect peach. He need not look any futher, because I think I found it - in my sack lunch yesterday. Even though I ended up with sticky hands and peach juice all over the place, it was the most delightful thing I have tasted in a long time. So everyone take advantage of the fresh fruit stands while they're still around! That perfect sweetness is worth every penny. 

Also, I discovered tody that if anything can stir the observer's soul, it's a sunrise. I watched the sun peak over the mountins this morning, and it was like God's presence on Sianai. There were beams of golden light pouring over the peaks and into the valley, and the ridges were lit up like a temple. It was a breathtaking sight. So next time you get the chance, find out when the sunrise is happening where you are and get up to watch it. It is well worth the sleep you're sacrificing, I promise.

-Till tomorrow - Ciao!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rainy Days

The weather was extremely spontaneous today. It poured for about thirty seconds this morning, and then again for half an hour this afternoon. Despite such unusual cloudbursts, it was actually an extremely plesant day. The overhanging storm clouds kept the sultry heat at bay, and the little rain there was gave the whole city that refreshing aroma of rain-soaked earth. I got to experience all the benefits of rain without actually getting wet. I wouldn't have minded it if I had, though. This year it started to rain on my birthday, at a time when a friend and I were without occupation at the high school. There wasn't much going on inside, so we went out. We spent about an hour a-singin' in the rain. And dancing. And puddle jumping. We got completely soaked, but our mothers will be comforted to know that neither of us ended up with so much as a cough in the following days.

Last night in my astronomy class I got to experience a scientific phenomenon that I had only ever seen on posters or in blackboard drawings - viewing the spectra of individual elements. I won't bore you with details, because it would take up more of your time than you probably are willing to devote to a single blog - suffice to say that being able to see it for my own eyes was a miracle for me.

But the detail I wanted to share about the experiment is that it involved looking through a little slide called a defraction grating, which bends white light into its full color spectrum. I was quite facinated by this little piece of cardboard and plastic, so my professor said I could keep it. I've been staring through it at every light I pass since then. That was the piece of magic I wanted to tell you about. There are so many rainbows in this world! Countless rainbows, everywhere - all hiding in the light we live in every day. It was amazing to get a glimpse of a few of them.

I have a suggestion for everyone today. Next time you are out in the world, walk up to a complete stranger and pay them a compliment. See what happens. It may be that you just made a world of difference without even knowing it. And if that isn't magical, I don't know what is.

Au Revior! 'Til next time...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Begining

This is me. Or rather, this is my blog. This is a completely new thing for me, so have patience if something cataclysmic happens all of a sudden - I probably didn't intend it - and excuse the momentary lack of decoration. I'm still figuring out this whole business. It isn't the sort of thing I would usually have undertaken, either - but my dear friend Jessica (Jubie) of, has inspired me to give it a go.

The purpose of this solitary little internet page is magic. But I'm not going to go on about Harry Potter here (Ok, I might a little, but only where necessary). The kind of magic I'm talking about is the kind of thing that happens every day. Like leaves changing color, or the first page of a great book, or the smile of a complete stranger right when you needed it the most. All of the brand new discoveries of every day life that so little of humanity gets to make. So I am going to put a little more effort into noticing these small but magical things and write them down for anyone who cares to listen, and I encourage my readers (whomever they be) to share their own discoveries with me as well.



I had to ride back to my apartment today from campus to get a rental movie (Harry Potter 2, consequently) that needed returning but was still sitting on my VCR (yes, I still use one - and casettes, too!). It seemed like a pain at first, but once I got going I suddenly realized what a beautiful day it was. It was perfect for biking - not a cloud in the sky, and gentle breeze blowing, and blushing shade trees growing in all the right places. After a couple weeks of stress and homesickness, this little trip off the beaten path was just what I needed - a chance to get away from the books and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of nice weather. I got back feeling refreshed, exhilarated, and revitalized.

So my advice for the day is this: don't get so caught up in life that you forget about living! Enjoy what's around you - from the warm sun in the heavens to the cookie in your lunch. They are all such blessings.

In other notes of interest - just in case anyone cares - I have my first midterm exams this week. I think this blog and the package of oreos stashed in my cupboard at home are the only things keeping me from going crazy. I think it will be fine - and at any rate, it will be funny to reflect on what a nut I will be the day before. If it's possible to study like a maniac, I will most certainly be doing it.

Thanks for reading in! Farewell 'till next time...