Higher Living Reflections

Making Magic – Act I

A good friend recently shared with me the news of his life, the events of which have been pretty much a downer for him. He spoke of the loss of a relative with whom he was particularly close as well as tidbits about separating from groups and activities he had found immense pleasure in over the years. His was not an unusual tale. It is one that we oldies witness and experience regularly. It is part of aging, which entails not only the body falling apart but also one’s past life. People close to us die or move out of our lives, and for many, we become like an old shoe, yesterday’s news.

In our exchange, he dispiritedly commented that “the magic is gone” and wryly suggested that notion would make for a good essay. So to wit.

His reflections resonated with me. I had recently experienced my own sense of the magic being gone. For over twenty years on Memorial Day, I had run the ten-K Bolder Boulder race in Boulder, Colorado. Nearing fifty when I first ran it, it was a struggle as I wasn’t a distance runner in my youth. The Bolder Boulder would be my first  race. I was nervous and full of self-doubt at the outset, but I was determined. Spent as I was when I trudged up the hill into Folsom Field, the University of Colorado stadium where the race reaches its climax, I couldn’t believe I had done it. In time, running six-point-two miles would become a given, a norm, but at that time it was a personal feat.

In an essay titled “From Hare to Tortoise,” which will be in a book to be published in the Spring of 2023, I explore more in depth my experience of running, what I learned about me and others while doing it. It became more than one foot in front of the other at a more rapid pace than walking. It became a magical experience especially on what I called gameday when I was one of hundreds or thousands standing near the start line in a corral or wave. The electrifying buzz would take me to another place. While the never-ending need to train, particularly for super-long distance races like the half and full marathons, could be exhausting both physically and mentally, the races themselves were emotional elixirs. And crossing the finish line, whether it was in Folsom Field or at the end of a half or full marathon, was without fail a jubilation.

But on Memorial Day in 2022, I did not feel the electric buzz at the start, the joy of the scenes as I trudged through the streets of Boulder, or exhilaration when I slowly romped around Folsom Field at the end. The magic was gone. And afterward as I sat in the stands reflecting, I decided that it was time to pull the plug on racing. It would be my last race. Besides, that Bolder Boulder would make a nice bookend to my competitive racing.

So when I read my friend’s account, I thought, Yeah, I get it. But my understanding had a caveat. At this juncture in life, I refuse to allow the disappearance of the magic from earlier days preclude me from creating new magic in my later years. I firmly believe the magical moments we experience in our lives, which I wrote about in “Magical Moments,” don’t just happen or magically appear. They take work to make happen, and almost always, hard work.

Those thoughts and more bounced around and echoed through my mind as I hiked up the Herman’s Gulch Trail a couple weeks later my on my “re-birthday,” which is the anniversary of the day I arrived in and declared myself a Coloradan. After trekking up and through that high valley breathing deeply the alpine air, taking in the vistas that never get old, and checking out the burgeoning wildflowers, I arrived alone at the tarn (pictured above). There I did my seven-direction meditation and thanked the Big U (Universe) for the blessings I’ve had and to come.

After sitting quietly for a time, munching my snack, sipping my drink, and appreciating I had the tarn to myself, I began my descent. As I started down, I wondered if I would run into any hikers doing the Continental Divide Trail, which the Herman’s Gulch Trail is part of, like I did last summer. Almost as soon as that potential crossed my mind, I met Pat, which would be Act II’s opening scene of the day’s magic carpet show.

To be continued.

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  • Bonnie McCune
    June 24, 2022 at 11:32 am

    I know how you feel, Jerry. I think covid, more to the point, our isolation, whether we want to be isolated or not, to be greatly responsible for our loss of joy. That and aging itself. No matter how much we try to connect through Zoom, telephone, and writing, it’s not the same. And the plunge toward depression and anxiety kicks in almost immediately. I’m now trying, courtesy of “The Year of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Bert, to find a tiny daily pleasure I can indulge in. This book is about a recent widow who moves alone across the country and reconnects with old friends and a new purpose. Hardly novel-like, more like a series of trailing essays, it reminded me that I often limit myself by rules and goals and habits for no good reason. I need to give myself permission to enjoy. That’s what I’m trying now.

  • Robert G. Williscroft
    June 24, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    I will not add any words of wisdom to yours, Jerry, but I surely enjoyed yours!

  • Melanie Mulhall
    June 24, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    Like everything else in life, the magic shifts and changes. When we took our first steps as little ones, it was magic and a pure act of creation because each of us recreates the process of walking with our first steps. But we don’t linger on that magic. We go on to experience other magical moments. The object is to keep recognizing magical moments. And there are plenty of them. We have the opportunity to hone our awareness and deepen our appreciation of everyday life as we age. It’s a beautiful thing when we do that. And while I don’t run the five miles I did several times a week when I was younger, I still marvel at and take joy in my body and what it can do. Magic is always afoot, and thank the Big U (as you put it) for that.

  • Glenn Blanco
    June 24, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    “You should think about nobody and go your own way, not on a course marked out for you by people holding mugs of water…….”
    Alan Sillitoe – Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

    That was one of my favorite short stories read to my class in Senior English in high school. Your comments, Jerry, took me back to another time as well.