My family and I recently watched the documentary movie, Make Believe, a chronicle of teen magicians from around the world as they prepared for, and competed in, the Teen Championship at the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas.
I was touched by the movie on a multiple of levels, but have been continuing to ponder the two boys from South Africa, Siphiwe Fangase and Skumbuzo Nkonyana. As the film profiled the lives of select participants in the Vegas competition, the home life of the South Africans was a stark contrast to the other competing teens. Three of the featured magicians were from the US, all living with the standard, creature comforts one would expect in the modern, western world. Most had private magic lessons, some had whole sections of their home dedicated to their craft.
In South Africa, the boys attended a modest magician school which was funding their trip to compete in Las Vegas. Their kitchen was about the size of a closet, comprised of several five-gallon buckets and sink. They explained that most of the boys their age were in jail or using drugs. Mothers on their way to work were robbed by knife or gun point on a daily basis. Yet, the South Africans seemed the happiest of all the teen competitors.
Their smiles were big. Their hearts were light.
Given their life situation, one could say that their future depended upon their success more than any other contestant in the event. Still, they seemed the least stressed of all.
As I watched the film with my ten-year old son, Jeb, I noted, “They have the least, and they seem the happiest.”
Maybe living so close to the edge of survival, the South Africans could appreciate the truest of life’s offerings. When good things came, they embraced them wholeheartedly.
I look around at my own creature comforts and observe the ways I fall into worry. How I can tunnel-vision myself into anxiety, when, really, there is no problem. I have all that I need, and plenty more.
I fear my lack of appreciating this simple fact, in all of its totality, is the greatest insult to the gifts I’m given.
Though there’s a beautiful beach less than a five-minute drive from our house, my family and I often find ourselves occupied with chores, homework, projects, or errands.
Recently, we took a pause and just let the beauty in. Dove into all that appreciation, fully. Felt the magic. Said Thank You.