Last night, I was flipping through a sketchbook I kept in high school. As my fingers turned each page, I rediscovered treasures from a seemingly past life. Some made me laugh, some made feel nostalgic, and others brought forth memories I almost forgot I had. However, in any sketchbook I have kept since middle school, I have dedicated multiple pages to different quotes I have come across as I walk through life. So, last night when I was reminiscing on an awfully innocent time in my life, I came across a quote I had written down by Albert Einstein, and it read, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Everyone faces adversity in life in some form, and everyone will experience times where their mental health begins to regress. For me, this happened in high school, specifically during the end of junior year and all of the senior year. When your headspace is dark, the world around you grows dark too. It begins to become increasingly difficult to recognize the good and to ignore the bad, and somehow miracles seem impossible.
But I found that quote in the summer of 2019 during a time of extreme growth and I had just finished reading the story “The Alchemist.” I devoured that novel in the course of three days and it changed the way I viewed the world forever. Like Einstein, I began to look at the world as though everything was a miracle and have ever since then.
Miracles are often viewed through a lens of magic or some greater power blessing you with an extremely unexpected occurrence. However, a miracle is much more approachable and simpler than that. Sometimes a miracle is as simple as a stranger handing you a flower, meeting a dog on campus who is just like your dog at home, or going to the market and seeing that they’ve finally restocked the strawberries. Some would argue that these are not miracles and that they are omens, but omens and miracles ought to be the same thing.
When I was growing up, my nana once told me that when a white butterfly passes by you it’s because someone who loves you and who has passed away is watching over you. Ever since then I have walked through life paying close attention to the presence of white butterflies. When I came to Ohio University, I was having some trouble adjusting and a part of me was aching because I had been here for a month and hadn’t seen a white butterfly. Then one day I met with my adviser to make some changes and as soon as I stepped out of the building, two white butterflies came out of nowhere and danced around me for a moment before floating away. To me, that is a miracle and an omen wrapped up in one.
If you are living your life right now as though nothing is a miracle and it is hard to see the good in everyday tasks, I encourage you to read “The Alchemist.” If you’re not a reader, write down a list of things that relax you and make you happy. Avoid saying social media or Netflix, and try to talk about life; discuss your favorite colors, your favorite breakfast food, or how it feels when you are doing your favorite activity and what type of emotions it pulls from you. When you walk to class, take out your AirPods and listen to the world around you. If you do, you’ll notice how loud the birds have been singing recently (something I noticed a few days ago). If you begin to recognize the beauty in the simplest parts of your life and grow an appreciation for them, you’ll begin to see miracles every day, and the good in daily tasks won’t be so hard to find.
I also encourage you to attempt to explore the miracles you hold within yourself. When you get to know yourself a little more, you’ll begin to see how many spectacular things you hold within you and how you’re a miracle yourself. Take some time alone, allow yourself to stay in for a day or two over the weekend while your friends go out. Practice things that you love but you may not have time to do normally. I once walked past a sticker here in Athens that read, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.” So use that right and be alone to rest. Give your brain a break from the world and allow your social battery to recharge. This alone time and opportunity to rest will give you a chance to learn about yourself and discover the miracles you hold within you to help others. Spending time with just yourself, even if you think you can’t do it, will help you step into the world and recognize everyday miracles. These miracles may not happen to you and they might occur to a stranger across the street from you, but you will have noticed it and that is what matters.
A miracle is what you make of it. It does not have to be a lifesaving experience or some drastic change for the better. It can be anything you want to view it as, so let it. Let a miracle be seeing someone in a yellow hat while it’s raining out; let them be the simple, positive outcomes of life. The darkness that may be surrounding you will eventually fade, but it may fade faster when you decide to pay attention to the beauty and miracles of everyday life.