Think back on some time when you moved to a new part of the country, or went to work at a new place.
New places can be magical. When I first arrived at The University of Notre Dame in 1981 to begin a teaching and research career, the place seemed like a fairy tale setting. And it wasn't just the huge beautiful campus, the great buildings, and the legends that echoed with each footstep. Even the classrooms and meeting spaces seemed charged with a significance beyond anything I had felt in a long time.
Of course, looking back, when I first arrived as a graduate student at Yale, six years before my first real job at Notre Dame, I had some similar experiences. Magic was all around. The air carried endless possibilities. Every breeze whispered great things and intimated a future that was beyond what I could even dream. And, four years before that, first walking across campus at The University of North Carolina, I sensed that Chapel Hill was a nearly sacred spot. Never has a town been so enchanted! Never were people so impressive! The swirl of beauty and laughter and ideas was an intoxicant exceeding all others. I'm surprised the air didn't actually sparkle with the energy I felt, first touching that hallowed ground.
And most recently, twenty years ago, moving to the coast in North Carolina, it happened again. How did I keep finding these wondrously magic, fantastical places? It was like I had stumbled again onto a vortex of meaning and beauty beyond anything I could expect or even hope to find.
But that was then, and this is now.
Wilmington, NC is still beautiful, and exciting, and peaceful, and endlessly interesting. I have a sense now and then that right down the street, or across town, something is happening, or could happen, at any moment that would be astonishing. But there was a extra special magic in the newness of the place when I first arrived. And I bet you've felt this magic, too, in other places that were new to you. Yet, after a time, the fairy dust begins to settle, doesn't it? The great drama diminishes. The real begins to nudge out the ideal.
Well, here's my thought. If a new place can feel so charged with significance, at least for a time, then why can't a new time?
We're moving into a new year, one we haven't lived in before, you and I. Why can't we experience the magic of the new, the charged hyper-reality of the novel and wonderful, in these days we haven't visited or lived in or worked in before? And, come to think of it, there's a new hour about to arrive that I've never seen before in my life. Why can't I approach that with some of the newcomer's supercharged sensibility? Why can't there be magic in new times, just as there is in new places?
The true wonder, the real magic, would be to live in every new moment with fresh eyes and an zestful heart, with a hopeful intimation of the amazing, secret treasures it may have for us, if we only allow ourselves that experience of the new, that incredible encounter whispering out to us, when it doesn't shout, that meaning and greatness and something special await us, now.
Maybe that's the challenge of true wisdom at the deepest level. May, then, a touch of it be yours in this new year, and often.