Illusions only last so long. Card tricks and sleight of hand, airbrushed pictures and TikTok trends.
The warm magic of a child’s giggle as they hide behind the laundry basket. A song’s words in your head long after you have forgotten the melody. Wiggle waggle doggie tails and cozy nights before the fireplace. The first wave of fog rolling down the mountains and the last drops of summer rain. These moments aren’t illusions. They’re magic.
My children see magic in the most unexpected things: rocks, dried leaves, crumpled paper, and road signs. Now, Nirav is all about dried leaves. He will sit on our sunny deck and crumple them for hours, relishing the sensation of scrunching a once verdant leaf into brown dust. He is content with silence and needs no companionship other than his own. Time moves like molasses, and he fully lives in the magical moments that make up his childhood.
Reya collects little pebbles and old paper, and rolled-up balls of tape. With the prickly perfection of a 7-year-old, she fashions homes, yards, and entire neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are populated by Pokemon toys or Minecraft Lego pieces, who then live dramatic and adventurous lives as they jump from paper towers to rock bridges, wielding twig swords and leaf shields. Danger lurks in every corner, only interrupted when I announce it’s dinnertime. On long drives, we sit in amiable silence. I hum tunes, and she daydreams, pausing every so often to tell me about the magical worlds inside her head.
As I approach my 40th birthday, I see the value of slowing down. I don’t chase trends or do something just to fit in. Those are the illusions of a younger person — someone still looking for their spot on the big blue rock. I am not enlightened by any means; I have more than my fair share of regrets and what-ifs. But those don’t keep me awake at night any longer. Right at the cusp of middle age, I have recognized a fundamental but powerful truth.
Life happens in the countless seconds sandwiched between the highs and lows. These half-forgotten moments shape your being and, ironically, serve as the foundation for every happy memory. Laughing at inside jokes while doing the dishes. A mundane walk down the street with friends and loved ones. Staying up late watching an awful movie and sneaking in an extra hug while saying goodbye. Moments like these don’t make it to your camera roll. They’re not flashy or deceitful, like the skilled hand of an illusionist.
These ordinary, ho-hum bits of life are magic. And unlike illusions, magic lasts forever.