Making magic in the Land of ‘Before’

It’s a place I didn’t recognize at first. A magical place whereI think theory blossoms into life.

It’s a place I didn’t recognize at first. A magical place, I think, where theory blossoms into life. The Land of Before is a busy, authentic little place where everyone works. People live there — actual people with rough edges and real needs. But something stirs in the land …

Could I get some directions, please? Maybe I will just head over to see.

When I first noticed folks who are seriously happy, I thought they must just be lucky. You know — maybe more handsome, shapely, or rich, or  smarter than folk like me. But as I looked, that wasn’t what I found. It was their ordinariness that troubled me. There was nothing exceptional about them. Nothing at all.

I had known some of them long ago, long ago in the Land of Before, when things were different. Some of them used to be intolerant, angry and unkind. One was painfully arrogant. Dishonesty and selfishness lurked in their past, as did roots of anger.

But in the Land of After they were happy. And changing a habit or two hadn’t done it. Something special had brought these people to a better land. Was it hope, courage, discipline? I was envious; I wanted to know. But in Lambert and Potter’s song about the Tin Soldier, the answer was so simple that most walked away when they found it.

Our tomorrows are brought to us by what we did yesterday. We create our ‘After’ in the Land of ‘Before.’

“Our lives are like tofu,” claims Boorstein. “They taste like whatever we marinate ourselves in.” That means that our only problem, our only real competition, according to Criss Jami, is the person in the mirror.

What a sad discovery! Or is it? It’s sad to find there is no magic, that there are no tricks and no shortcuts. Even talent is not needed. All that is required is practice. Over and over again, most of those who live in charmed places are simply repeating what they always did ‘Before.’

A curse word is a rehearsal just as surely as is a “Thank You.”  It’s the secret everyone knows.  Ask Pele, the soccer great.  “Everything is practice,” he says.  Practice for something.  And practice is how we will play.

The Land of Before is a magical place. It sculpts character, friendships, careers, and nations. We are what we practice most, muses Richard Carlson.

Wildly scary at first, finding the secret of magic in mundane repetition could be our most enchanting discovery. We are the ones that make us who we are. We can practice good stuff, or drill ourselves in patterns of loss, forever affecting the ‘After.’ It is in the Land of Before that we fashion the future.

We create our own ruts. Tomorrow will simply bring us more of what we practice today. What we plant in the Land of ‘Before’ blossoms in the Land of ‘After.’ And that is our only bloomin’ guarantee.

Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.


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