“What if I choose not to believe?”
It’s a line from one of my favourite movies of the holiday season, “The Santa Clause.”
I’ve always believed in the power of mystery and magic. I have, of course, mailed letters to Santa for my children when they were small and I’ve been known to mail a “Dear Santa” letter written solely from me.
I’ve put down on paper all my wishes for the Christmas season, folded the letter into an envelope, and addressed it to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada” (after all, he does live in Canada, right?).
Santa writes back. A “Dearest Beth” letter back to me—stamped and postmarked from the North Pole, along with a handwritten acknowledgment of my wishes. He told me in that letter he would do his best to help those wishes come true.
Getting that letter was more enriching for my grown-up soul than a front-row seat at a Mark Nepo workshop, although I haven’t yet had that experience (it’s still on my bucket list).
The older I get, the more I understand that attitude really is everything. Believe me when I say I know what I’m talking about. But then again, you will figure that out—or not—all on your own, just the way it is meant to be for you in your own life.
That’s the beauty of the mystery and the magic. Pay attention to the magic of life.
One of my very favourite stories about the magic is encapsulated in a memory of when I was sitting in a local restaurant enjoying a Reuben sandwich. Long, chewy strands of sauerkraut hung from my lips as the woman approached my table, where I sat with one of my grandchildren.
The little person of my heart was busy dipping a French fry repeatedly in ketchup and licking off the red glob.
We’d been talking about letters to Santa Claus and the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning to find our stockings filled with candies and other delights.
The little person of my heart was explaining to me how Santa managed to fit himself into each house—even the ones that didn’t have chimneys.
My sandwich was warm and my attention was focused on how good it tasted, and on listening to the conversation that revolved around the magic of Santa.
The woman stopped at our table. I looked up at her standing over me and, feeling a piece of sauerkraut dangling from my lip, pushed it in with my finger as she promptly put her hand on the top of my shoulder.
This woman, with tousled gray-hair and dressed in sweat pants and a big overcoat, was a complete stranger.
I’m not normally easily startled and initially I wasn’t in that moment—until I felt her fingers apply what I only can term as a direct and clamping pressure to the muscles near my neck where she had touched me.
I know my eyebrows rose. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t have time.
She looked directly into my eyes with palpable urgency and, without blinking, said, “There is no choice you’ve ever made, nor any you will ever make, that will limit you as much as you may fear. Get the mud out of your wings. Do it now.”
Then she let go of me, turned, and walked out of the restaurant.
My grandchild hadn’t stopped poking the French fry in ketchup during that few seconds of mysterious intervention. I, on the other hand, had to reach up and catch my dropped jaw before the masticated sauerkraut tumbled out of my mouth onto my plate.
The little person of my heart licked off another red glob and said most confidently, “I’ve seen your wings, Granny, and they aren’t muddy. You just have to believe you can fly and then leap like I do.”
There is a quote by an unknown sage that reads,” The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is—a miracle and unrepeatable.”
That’s the truth.
“What if I choose not to believe?”