small magic

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It’s been a long week. It’s been a long month, for that matter. I recently began teaching full-time again for the first time since Thing 1 was three months old. He’s twelve and a half now, so it’s been a while. I knew the transition would be challenging. I suspected I wouldn’t have much time or energy for writing. Spending your days with middle schoolers and then coming home with one means pretty much 24/7 middle school exposure. I adore this age group, but by the end of the day I’m completely drained.

I’ve struggled with what to write about, not because nothing is happening, but maybe because so much is–or maybe because it’s not happening where I want it to be happening. I would love to be able to recount my progress with my current novel, but it’s on the back burner while I frantically plan lessons and exams and grade quizzes. I would love to be able to tell you that I have an agent, but I don’t. My accomplishments at the moment are much more incremental. But I do have one good story from the past week, one small magic that happened.

Earlier this week, in the bustle of taking care of a dog, two cats, and fourteen chickens before heading to school, I saw that a lilac bush I’d somehow never really fully noticed before was in full bloom, laden with clusters of violet blossoms and gently perfuming the cool morning air. Mornings are berserk, and time is at a premium, but suddenly it seemed important to pause and cut flowers for the house. I dug out my rusty old pruning shears and clipped some lilacs, enough to fill a vase, and then kept clipping, spurred by the thought that I would take them to school, that they were for somebody. I didn’t know who. But I figured, in an uncharacteristic moment of not-overthinking, that I’d know when I knew.

So I took my lilacs to school in a jelly jar and set them on my desk. I had just sat down to frantically prep for the day when a colleague appeared in my doorway, drawn by the scent of the flowers. She told me she loved lilacs, that she used to have lilac bushes at her old home in another state, that they were the one thing she’d had to leave behind and really missed. She wanted to smell the flowers. I gave them to her–they were very obviously hers.

Magic is often small and inexplicable, but it’s everywhere. I wonder how often it’s waiting behind the sudden nonsensical impulses we do or don’t follow. How often have I missed it in the hustle and bustle of everyday life? I can’t even begin to say. But the lilacs remind me to stay open to it, to let whimsy take the wheel whenever possible, to follow the twisty little paths that sometimes open up unexpectedly before me, carpeted with moss and canopied with sweet-scented blossoms.