Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Miracle

T'was the night before Thanksgiving, just a few weeks ago. Iris and I sat in the kitchen awaiting the arrival of our dear friend Mark Kaufman who had planned on leaving Brooklyn at noon or so and arriving in the Berkshires by three. Throughout the afternoon Mark had phoned to let us know that he hadn't left yet. More specifically, around one or so he was still in bed, and so on.

Now, at 8:00 PM, Mark called to let us know that he had picked up the lox and bagels, but felt too tired to drive to the Berkshires. He would be coming up in the morning along with a Thanksgiving breakfast straight from Brooklyn. Astutely, Iris asked Mark, "At what time do plan on being here. I'd like to know so that I can prepare everything else."

Mark announced, "I'm going to roll out of bed at 5:30AM and get on the road by 6:00. I should be at your place by 8:30."

The next morning, as we opened our eyes to greet the day, Iris rolled over, looked me in the eye and asked, "Should we start cooking or should we plan on Mark actually getting here?"

What Do You Think Happened?
If I were a man who played the odds, the answer would be simple, but instead I said, "Let's wait and see."

At 8:30AM I looked out the window and what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a battered old minivan with a somewhat more than little old driver. Mark walked proudly into the house with a side of lox and a bagful of fresh bagels exactly when he had said he would.

As we began preparing everything else, the phone rang. It was Kat. In response to my little story of Mark's trip to the Berkshires, she pronounced, "It's a Thanksgiving miracle!"

This morning is Christmas. As Iris and I stirred in bed, I started thinking about miracles. What makes something a miracle? Why and how do miracles happen? How can you create a miracle?

I decided that a miracle is simply an occurrence that you would hope for, but would never expect: a desired outcome that goes beyond reason and probability.

That being the case, if I wanted to create more miracles in my life, how would I go about it?

Step 1: Identify Your Miracle

The starting place would be identifying those things in my life that I truly desire, but consider improbable or even impossible. It could be finding a partner who is just right for me. It might be recovering my child from Autism. It might be becoming physically fit. It might be becoming and artist or musician. Whatever it is, miracles start with identifying what it is we truly desire, but consider to be out of reach.

Step 2: Envision Your Miracle
OK, if you know what it is you want for your miracle, the next step is to envision it. The best way to build a vision is to make it as vivid and real as possible, and to do it in a concrete way. For example, don't simply hold it in your mind, but instead, tell someone your vision, write it down, paint a picture of it. Whatever way you can make your vision as real and vivid and concrete as possible, do that.

Also, don't hold back in your vision. Nothing is off limits. If you want to play music, imagine playing in the world's best venue with the entire band and a crowd of adoring fans. If you want to recover your child from Autism, imagine him walking down the aisle at his wedding arm-in-arm with his bride and surrounded by all his friends. Make your vision big and unlimited.

Step 3: Big Vision, Small Steps
Step 3 is both the easiest and the most difficult. When it comes to creating miracles, we tend to gravitate to the parts that we can't figure out or don't have the capacity for. If your miracle is running a marathon, you might jump to running a mile every day. If your miracle is playing music, you might go to a club to hear a great performer and overwhelm yourself with their skills and your inability to play as well. If your miracle is a child who can relate to others, you might jump to getting him to speak or behave well with peers.

The problem is that it's so easy to overwhelm ourselves with the things that we can't do, that we miss the things that we can do. Further, it's usually the case that we can't do the things that we can't do simply because we haven't done the things that we can.

So, if your goal is running a marathon, perhaps the best first step is simply to become more active in any way that feels good. Perhaps just walking to the store instead of driving.

If your goal is playing guitar, perhaps the best first step is to, well, buy a guitar.

If your goal is a child who can fully relate to world around him, perhaps the best place to start is with the things in his world to which he does relate.

The reason that these first steps are so hard is that we often tell ourselves that they're too small, that they're insignificant, that we'll never get there at that rate. We judge the things we can do thereby eclipsing the things we can't.

In the end, big miracles rest on a foundation of thousands of tiny mico-miracles each of which stretches us and our situations just a bit further. Great miracle makers no that there is no such thing as an insignificant step.

Happy Christmas!
Christmas being a time for miracles and all, it might be a great time to start your next one. As you gather with family and friends, share what you would like to see as your next miracle. Paint your visions for one another and make them big! You might even take a first step with a micro miracle or two.

From the intergalactic headquarters of the Belief Makers Blog, I wish you the humble beginnings of many future Christmas miracles.

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