The great Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle.”
Sometimes the world beats us up, and we don’t know if we’re coming or going. I think of the life of St. Paul. There he was, a mercenary for the cause, killing in the name of keeping the coffers full for him and his friends. Seeking out opportunities to squash his opponents rather than listen and understand where people were coming from, and why they believed as they did. Some critics would say Paul struggled with this even after his conversion, but for the most part he pulled a prickly thorn from his side that impeded his progress.
After his conversion experience on the road to Damascus everything changed. He was inspired by the light of Christ to go out and spread the “Good News.” He faced every hardship imaginable. Think about it. He walked thousands of miles from town to town not knowing if he would be accepted. He never knew where he would sleep and relied on his wits to survive. He was hunted while he relied on the kindness of strangers. He was despised in some towns and wiped the dust of wretchedness off his clothes and kept on moving. He was imprisoned multiple times, almost stoned to death, despised and reviled, shipwrecked, undermined and doubted, but he persisted. He persisted.
He opened his heart to the world unconditionally. In addition, the trick for him came in the form of prayer. He tells us that it is a necessity to “pray without ceasing.” We replenish the manna of the spirit daily by digging in and filling the spirit with the food of wonder, knowledge, creative imaginings. We seek out doing good and inspiring goodness. We tap the spiritual well of grace and are nourished on the nutrients of faith.
Every day Paul was confronted with miraculous circumstances. Maybe it was just the basic sustenance of food and living to tell another tale. No doubt these miracles kept him going. Daily there are miracles awaiting us. Tough to see when all you reflect on is darkness. We form habits in the mind of seeing the glass half full and half empty.
We may be facing our own shipwrecks or feelings of isolation and being beat up by situations that inspire uncertainty, but we persist like St. Paul. We replenish the spirit with looking back on our lives and seeing the worst that’s happened to us and say “Well, I survived that.” We see the difficult things others endure and become inspired by their willingness to fight. Many a eulogy has been written about the powerful moments that made the lives of everyday men and women who chose to be empowered by adversity rather than letting it break them.
Dr. Randy Pausch was a professor of computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. When he was dying from cancer, he gave a lecture titled the “Last Lecture.” It was a tradition at Carnegie Mellon to give one final lecture that sums up your life’s work and your career. He decided to leave a love note to his children about his philosophy of life. There was a special section in the lecture that begged the question “Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?”
These were two characters are found in the Winnie the Pooh series. Tigger was a tiger who bounced along and was excited about everything in life, while Eeyore was a tired old mule who took a “woe is me” victimhood approach to his life. Pausch noted that some of us make the choice to take on the attitude of one of these characters. The one we choose makes the difference.
It’s very easy to slip into manners that suit our mood and lose hope in the day. When you’ve been up against it all day and you feel like the world is against you, it’s easy to slip into the Eeyore mode and trigger the neurons of want and abject despair. It’s easy to lose sight of dreams and moving beyond the slumber of malaise – merely existing day in and day out.
But seeking out the miracles in a day has its own rewards. Great books have been written about the power of positive thinking, generating hopes and dreams and never losing sight of building a conscious awareness that there is a force for good in the world. Such insights have created a billion dollar industry in how we can realign our thinking to seek greater heights.
Our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual makeup is tied to our pursuit of happiness. Not just being mired in the struggle of attaining our desires, but relishing the good wholesome expression of sublime poetry that life has to offer us in the glimpse of a day. Look for the good. Every day has a miracle within it – seek it out.