When I was six years old, my father tiptoed into my bedroom one morning before sunup and whispered in my ear, “Get up and dress warm. I have a surprise for you.” He left my room and headed down the staircase to the garage. I jumped out of bed, put on a pair of corduroy pants, a heavy sweatshirt, and in a few minutes, I climbed into the passenger seat of his Studebaker.

Where are we going?” I asked as he started the engine.

“To the airport,” he said.

“Are we going on a plane?” I had never flown anywhere.

“No. There’s going to be a solar eclipse at 6:14. When the sun starts to come up, the moon is going to cover it and it’ll get dark again.”


“The moon is jealous. It has to disappear every morning and it wants extra attention.”

It was still dark when we arrived at the airport. We walked over to a hilly rise. A few other adventurous souls milled around in the
darkness. I resented their presence, I wanted to be alone with my father so I pretended they weren’t there. I held his hand tightly. pressing into his spongy thumb pad, feeling it fill back out and pressing it down again. I looked up at him while we waited. He was a magical person. As a faint glow appeared along the horizon, lighting up the edges of the world, my father’s upturned face became a dark silhouette against the lit up heavens. Then the darkness appeared. I reached my arms up to the sky, stretching out my fingers toward the
magic that was happening. When the sky lit up again, my father and I smiled at each other.  

On our way back home, my father explained light years to me. I tried to understand.

“How many light years away was the eclipse?” I asked him.

“I don’t know honey. But it won’t happen again for seventy years.”

“You’ll be pretty old by then.”

“I will. A lot more than a hundred.”

“Will you still have hair?”

“It’ll be white.”

“How about your eyes? Will you be able to see?”

“My glasses will be thick.”

“Well, don’t worry. I’ll drive.”

“Deal,” he said.

When I was old enough to sit still for twenty minutes, my father took me to the local planetarium to gaze at thousands of stars projected
onto the domed ceiling. When the show was over, we ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time, and peered into the telescope that allowed us to view the planets. My father was just so energetic. He would toss me in the air and when he put me back down, we ran together and kissed the wind. He always looked like he was about to break out into a smile. His laughter was contagious and he cracked up my mother who was a very serious person. He made people smile in hospital rooms. In temples during boring sermons. He told me that the light is always there. It may be behind the clouds or the moon, but it eventually comes out to play. He said that if I paid attention, I could find the magic in everything.

Today. even amidst pandemics, unprovoked wars and people
believing crazy things, I remember to look for the magic. Flowers still open their scented blossoms. Unexpected acts of kindness still appear. People still smile when there’s nothing to smile about and help each other when it seems like all is lost.

We live in a world of duality. Good and evil. Happy and sad. In the Philippines, most of the healers were born and raised in the same province where people practiced voodoo and other dark arts. The Mayans discovered that in the wild, every poison grows beside its antidote, like “jewelweed” that grows a short distance from  poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The antidote “horsetail plant” grows very near “stinging nettle.”

I’m not suggesting that we turn away from reality and pretend everything is okay. It isn’t and that’s not what my father taught me.
He lived in the real world, he had compassion and he understood that people suffer but he worked hard to avoid getting stuck in the tough places. He knew how to find his way back to what was okay. He didn’t teach me these things in words or in books. He taught me to find the magic by example and when I laugh out loud, I can see him smiling back at me and kissing the wind.