You don’t engineer or plan them; they take you by surprise and fill you with delight (sometimes in the most unlikely places). They expand your vision beyond your current troubles, and transport you—not away into escape, but back in touch with your heart. The expansive part of your heart, not the breaking part.
You’ve most likely had a bunch of magic moments in your life, and so have I.
For instance, the photo above may not exactly look like a magic moment. Indeed, being surprise-snouted from behind by a couple of dolphins weirded me out just a little at first. My sister-in-law and I had signed up for a “swimming with dolphins” experience, so we were expecting some good times. But the photo actually caught the unexpected magic moment: for about 30 seconds, I was a 10-year-old kid pretending I was being chased by sharks. Harmless, toothless sharks. Magical.
Or how about two years ago when, on December 4, we were celebrating my mom’s birthday at the mall? (Yes, her 97th birthday. At the mall.) We were tooling our way to Macy’s when I spotted a tempting sight: Santa, in all his rotund glory, was sitting on his throne, surrounded by wonder and elves. He was giving Mom the eye.
And when Santa gives you the eye, you must respond.
“Hey Mom!” I said. “It’s your birthday! Let’s go get your picture taken with Santa!”
Askance was how she looked at me, but I knew I had momentarily lured her into my brand of shamelessness. Of course, we have a picture. Magical.
One of my favorite magic moments happened when I was a 19-year-old counselor at church camp. Along about the middle of the week, a bunch of us female counselors and the camp nurse thought it would be fun to sneak out of our cabins when the children were asleep in the night, and run down to the lake to go skinny dipping. I had never been skinny dipping before, and it sounded adventurous. So that evening, we synchronized our watches, made sure all the kids were asleep, met down at the water’s edge, hid our clothes in the woods, and jumped in.
After a few minutes of raucous play, I caught sight of the evening’s gift: the lifeguard’s chair. And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to climb up in it, thank God for such a stunning night, yell, “BUDDY CHECK!” and leap into the water with soul-soaring glee.
Hey, I was 19. My brain hadn’t finished growing yet.
I do not tell this story to endorse irresponsible behavior. Heavens, no. I mean, one of our kids could have had a medical emergency and had no one to take her to the camp nurse. But nobody could have actually found the camp nurse anyway, since she was in the middle of the lake playing “Marco Polo.”
I tell it because, that night, when the moon was full and the sky loaded with stars, I had the sense to embrace a moment that would never come again, and celebrate it for all it was worth.
Magic moments aren’t like being on a perfect Disney vacation where you have your high expectations met at every turn. They’re more like accidentally finding a treasure in an unexpected corner of your day.
I’m telling you, we need to live—not striving for these moments, but ready to accept them as gifts, to revel in in them, be grateful for them, to watch for them, be attentive to them. Then, when they are landing on us, we need to take note somewhere, somehow—and let them live on, let them inform us about our heart for adventure, and inspire us to new aliveness.
So what are a few of your magic moments? And what do those moments say about you?
Keeping a running list of them (I’m so big on running lists!) will tell you a lot about the kind of adventure your soul longs for (physical? spiritual? relational?), and enable you to accept an invitation when it shows up.
Assuming your brain is finished growing. Helpful.
But oh, what the heck, not required…
If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…