"And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass"
- Counting Crows, A Long December
At the suggestion of someone close to me, someone who I trust and admire, I started reading a book called, "The Magic."
As likely became clear in my last post, just because I've decided to return to South Africa, doesn't mean I'm not the "same old me." Clearly, I'm still vain and somewhat superficial. And, I'm still skeptical about many things, things such as higher powers, the healing powers of reiki and of course magic.
Even though I'm practical, rational and have never cracked open a self-help book until now, I am learning quite a bit from "The Magic." I find myself thinking about the book often which means it's worthwhile and interesting.
The premise of The Magic is that there is a riddle in an ancient text, which until now has never been understood or revealed. The book claims if you understand the riddle which advises incorporating gratitude into your life, your life will change and transform for the positive. Your health, your financial situation, your relationships, everything will improve. That's the part that makes me go hmmm. But the meat of the book is practical advice and specific assignments for the reader every day for 28 days all focused on becoming someone who is truly grateful.
The tone of The Magic, reminds me a little bit of a chain letter circa 1982. Remember those? They were all worded similarly stating something along the lines of "what could be easier, mail copies of this letter to eight people by this date and good things will come to you." But if you break the chain, and don't mail the letter, "well then....we hate to tell you this but the last person who broke the chain died. And she didn't just die, just got hit by a train and smashed to a million pieces, in fact we are still finding her body parts, and then her entire family died in a freak house fire."
Bold and unafraid even back in the 80s, I always broke the chains. So I don't believe as the book insinuates that if I'm not grateful I will miss out on the magic and good fortune promised to those who follow the steps suggested. But I have learned there is a right way to experience gratitude and strangely enough it's not the way I was doing it prior to reading the book. My former method of gratitude was to remind myself, similar to the way a nagging friend would, how great my life is and how people live in shacks in places like Diepsloot without running water and electricity and to tell myself that the fact that I accidentally brushed up against a dirty car and got a mixture of road salt and dirt on my pants really isn't the end of the world. I have also learned that there is so much to be grateful for in life. More than I ever considered.
As I've been in America for the past six weeks, something sort of magical has started to happen. I've begun to appreciate my unusual and somewhat unsettling situation. My limbo has transformed into something slightly magical.
The last time I lived in America I was working and when I worked work was all consuming. Work came first. It came before fun, it came before relationships and it came before friendships. I am not sure I knew any of this at the time but in hindsight it is extremely clear to me. I can remember that even when I wasn't working, I was thinking about work and squeezing my entire life into my non-working time. Looking back, there were too many times when I decided I couldn't go somewhere or fully enjoy something because of work. Whether I actually had to work or whether I preferred to stay home and recover from or prepare to go to work, I don't know and it doesn't much matter now.
Now, I find myself with endless opportunity to spend time with people who are important to me. I've visited friends and family up and down the eastern seaboard over the past six weeks. I've reconnected with friends from all different stages of my life, many of whom I haven't seen in years. I've stayed with some friends at their homes for days at a time, and others I've met for just a few hours. I've been to a baby shower, a 50th birthday party and a Passover Seder. I've met the children of some of my friends for the first time. I've gone to work and grocery shopping with friends. I collected sea glass with a friend on a cold beach in Massachusetts in February and sat on a warm beach with another friend in Florida in March. I danced to 80's tunes with a group of friends and then performed "The Gambler" for them. I braved danger and personally investigated when a tree fell on my friend's house during a snow storm. Recently, when I spent time with my parents, I had the rare chance to go to Pilates and yoga with my mom...both in the same day and then I perfectly organized the food in their new refrigerator for them. What fun!
I am grateful.
I am grateful that I have so many interesting, fun, unique and special people in my life who love me and have welcomed me back with such enthusiasm. I'm grateful that due to my weird circumstances that I can spend meaningful time with so many people. This opportunity will never happen again...unless of course it takes two years for my paperwork to be approved, then it might happen quite frequently, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
A friend of mine who I've known since I was ten, and who has no idea I'm reading The Magic, summed it up perfectly in a text message she sent me after we met one day.
"It was so nice to see you today! On one hand I do not like that you are having to go through the not knowing how things are going to work out for you. On the other hand I am glad that we have been able to reconnect..."
So am I.
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- American Expat
- Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.