Everyday magic is everywhere. In the region where I live – think country towns, agriculture, small business, some industry and tourism – I’ve met some pretty great people. Sometimes they’re the ones who sparkle and shine and often, being with them makes me feel sparkly and shiny as well. They have that gift of making each person they speak to feel valued and interesting.
Sometimes they’re just really, really good people – smart as hell but also possessed of common sense, generosity and fun, even when things aren’t going all that well for themselves. Then there are the leaders and doers, the people who make change in our communities and society by the strength of their personalities, their ability to persuade and influence.
And sometimes, they’re the everyday people who quietly do what they do without any sense of leadership, of sparkling or of being smart as hell. Few of them would consider their stories inspiring or even worth telling. I consider their stories a little bit of everyday magic.
Mainstream media regularly plants us in the bomb-scarred streets of strife-worn cities, sharing images of bloodied children and table-thumping world leaders. They reel off the road accident stats for the long weekend in the same voice they use to report on house fires, coward punches and the latest celebrity stoush.
I feel worn down by their reporting.
Why do they focus on the horrific, the negative, the terrifying, when there’s so much of the good stuff we need to be hearing? I know, I know – I’m hearing your impatient, cynical voices telling me all the reasons why – to sell, to condition us, to be the first / the closest to the action / the reporter standing in the river as floodwaters rise repeating the SES message of “don’t do anything stupid” (true story!) / the BEST NEWS COVERAGE EVER!
Well, I’m over it. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in our world, I just want a decent ratio of positive to the negative, and I deserve more accuracy and less sensationalism. I was planning a holiday to Mexico a couple of years ago and family members seemed convinced by media reporting that every person living in Mexico was crooked, violent and out shooting people every night – I was likely to die in the crossfire of daily cartel gunfights and I really should not go! As it turned out, mezcal was a much more likely murder suspect, but that’s another story for another day.
I need a distraction from the mainstream news machine and I think I might have found it.
Everyday magic. The stories of ordinary, everyday people that are rarely shared and that need celebrating.
A few months ago, I found myself on a six-day residential community leadership program. While I actually signed myself up for it, as it loomed closer I became nervous. I didn’t consider myself a leader, and I worried that I would be found out immediately, an imposter among those confident, talented shiny folk.
Hardly sounds like the environment or attitude that would lead to magic. And for the record, while those people were usually our program facilitators, turns out they were also the other course participants – my twenty-three fellow everyday people. They worked in the cattle industry, in child-services, in community, in government, in business, for themselves – it was a pretty broad cross-section of people, professions and personalities.
As we worked together, and started to get to know each other, I started to lose the imposter feelings. Instead, I began to understand that community leadership could also be defined as how I could make a difference in my corner of the world. Once I realised that, I could focus on the elements of the program that would help me achieve that difference.
On day 5, each of us had to come up with a personal achievement of which we were proud, and talk about it for seven minutes. I’m pretty sure we all had 7 MINUTES?!?! running through our minds in upper-case, bold, red italics as we broke off in our small groups, but turns out this was the moment of magic. The stories were all so different, in topics and in the telling, but what shone through them all was the sense of personal achievement – the strength, the determination, the challenges, the joy! I could see it in their faces and through their voices and that’s what stayed with me.
Everyday magic is performed by people all the time.
The stories in my group were diverse:
- A person working hard to lose weight through diet and exercise started training for a marathon, becoming highly motivated, driven, results-oriented and determined to succeed (she did!), a win for herself and for her young family;
- A teacher who was given the chance to create a program to engage boys in specific learning at a pivotal time of their education, with funding and support over eighteen months. The program achieved its goals in engagement and improvement, a win for the boys, the school and its teachers;
- A person – me, actually – paired up with a teacher-friend to develop, fund and deliver an arts camp for remote-area children, giving them access to creative-based activities and education not usually available to them. Children from small schools and surrounding cattle stations attended the four-day camp in outback Queensland, along with four arts professionals from the coast – illustrators, musicians, authors and performers – most never having been the west before. I’m still not sure who learned the most from the camp… 😉
The magic of the everyday is in the sharing, the giving, the learning, the teaching, the creation of something new or precious. That’s what I think, anyway. And I know there are millions of stories of Everyday Magic to be told and they should be shared. (Check out Hamish and Andy’s TV show True Stories for the funny version of everyday magic! They know magic when they see it!)
I’d love to showcase these stories of your proud moments, so if you have a story of Everyday Magic you’d like to share, contact me here.
Share the magic. We could all use a little bit more of it.