I often say that there’s a moment in every podcast interview where I find that I am nodding and in total awe of what the guest is saying. The interview with Vitaly Beckman had more than it’s fair share of these moments, and one of those definitely hit for me in this part of our discussion, around the 17 minute mark.
In thinking back over our discussion, I could not help but notice how much of what Vitaly had said about magic was also true about becoming a parent.
A quote from Vitaly Beckman: “What’s nice about art, or theater, or magic specifically, is that it can remind us how to be present. Because when you see something that’s impossible suddenly seem possible, it shifts something in your mind. It grounds you back, it shifts you back to reality, saying “hey, something amazing is happening right now, in this moment, and I should pay attention.”
And, you feel more alive. It reminds you that maybe you don’t know everything about life, and that there are mysteries still out there. Because we, as adults, think that we know everything and have experienced everything, but that’s the problem. How can you be present, and in the moment, when you think that way? You have to keep that curiosity, that sense of wonder, like children have. Where, everywhere you look things are fresh, and wondrous.”
Seven years ago, when I had my son, it was like a huge reset button on many of the things I thought I knew as an adult. Suddenly, many aspects of my life were new, different, and slightly unexpected. Many of the things I’d taken for granted as things I “knew” were no longer true.
As a project manager, as a 38 year old woman who found a great deal of joy in making plans, it was nothing less than shocking to discover that what I thought I knew, and what I thought I could plan (outside of work), no longer applied. The feeding schedule I’d created in birthing class, not as predictable as one would have thought it would be. The birth plan I thought you had a handle on, yeah right, it was more like a total free fall. I think the only thing that was really in our control was naming our little one. We had pored over lists and lists of 16 Elegant Middle Names for Belle, 15 Charming Baby Names, and more, picked out names for both a boy and a girl, and done the work for it, so that was one decision that I felt I knew something about. The rest of it, like I said, was like a jump into the abyss.
Part of the magic (and the part one could never successfully plan for) is that the personality, and the particular likes and dislikes of the new baby all play a huge role in your entire approach to parenting. It’s a vast unknown, and most certainly not something you could have planned out before meeting this new baby and getting to know them.
In other words, when I became a new mom, it was an immediate and total immersion into the lesson that “maybe you don’t know everything about life, and that there are mysteries still out there.” On the one hand, this lesson was overwhelming. On the other, it was a joyful invitation to see everything with new eyes.
While I did (and still do) feel like it’s all new territory, raising a little human, it also has taught me that one of the greatest assets in my toolbox is flexibility, being present, being curious, and looking at things with the wonder they truly do possess.
What Vitaly says about people waking up, and paying attention, I found that to be true as a new mother (well, a sleep deprived version of it) as well. One night my husband and I laughed harder than we’d laughed in years, as our son sat in his jumpy seat, bouncing, nodding off, waking himself off, and starting to bounce again. Laughing and happy one moment, and literally eyes shut, head down, out like a light the next, with the momentum of the seat slowing to a stop as his legs stopped kicking him up and down, and he lulled himself to sleep.
We could not have been more present as we watched him fight sleep, taking notice of every detail, soaking it in, being so curious about what was happening in front of us that we could not tear ourselves away from taking such total delight in this small human. The connection and focus and joy in that moment, as it is in so many parenting moments, was unreal.
Having a child has been a magical invitation into wonder and curiosity, and it is multi-layered. I notice my own wonder in the world around me, and, it is a joy to witness the wonder that a child experiences daily in everything around them. Everything is new, and everything is fresh.
What I truly appreciate about Vitaly’s approach to magic is that he is so aware and mindful of what it rekindling curiosity can do for people, and that the role of art and theater is profound. It is rare anymore to have those moments where we can realize we are totally present and totally engaged in a moment, whether it be with a child, or with theater. Being able to capture people’s attention, and invite them in to the mysteries of life, is truly a gift.
In the interview with Vitaly, I found myself reminded of the uniqueness of these moments in our lives. The singular moments where what we think we know gets turned on it’s head, and we find ourselves in awe. I imagine this is why I love magic, and theater so much. It’s a standing invitation to simultaneously engage, and escape. To wonder and to connect with something deeper and bigger than myself, and to be reminded of the fullness of our human experience.