I’ve been thinking about sparkles and blessings lately.
Specifically, I’m wondering why so much stock is given to sparkles, or chemistry, or magic, or butterflies, or whatever fragile metaphor you want to stick to it, over real-life blessings and human connection.
I’m not sure I’m liking my answers.
When people say ‘sparkles’ it’s usually in a romantic context; there was a spark, sparks flew, we sparkled. It’s kind of like “butterflies in the stomach” except it’s mutual and a little bit more festive. If you were being extra grim about it, you could say my butterflies and your butterflies met in the air and spontaneously combusted and that is how we knew we were meant to be! Love is just so exciting, and the more exciting it is from the get-go, the better it is supposed to be, right?
If it wasn’t painfully obvious, I am not a ‘sparkles’ person. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but they have a tendency to fizzle out like their party-trick namesake. One minute you’re standing there, agog at the magic, as the cool air burns your lungs on New Year’s Eve; the next they’re gone, and the sparklers get lost in the landfill, among the champagne bottles, cheap confetti, and used condoms. Chasing sparkles is great if you’re someone who likes to dance through life; but if you’re the one picking up the garbage, they’re less of a beautiful thing and more like a huge nuisance.
Blessings are more difficult to appreciate, mostly because blessings don’t look like ones when you meet them. I was blessed with parents who value common sense and responsibility, although I don’t think either of us enjoyed learning about these things. I was blessed with friends who don’t put up with any of my shit, but I can’t say they like having to call me out on it, either. I was blessed with a more-than-average-asshole-detector, and it saved me from doing a lot of stupid things, but I will be the first to admit that the moral compass doesn’t keep you very warm at night.
Blessings are hard, and blessings hurt. Blessings don’t arrive in a shower of magic and announce: “Rejoice! For your strife is over! Put down thine trash bag and come dance!” Blessings are far more likely to pick up a broom and join in the clean-up effort than they are to make a further mess.
It’s okay to dream about sparkles. Who doesn’t want to take a break once in a while? (Cinderella can tell you all about this – she worked so hard she started talking to mice for crying out loud! One night off and she was glowing as if she were back from the Maldives!) But the thing about sparkles is, you realize pretty quickly how pointless they are. If you have experienced true blessings, you know what substance feels like. You know how people behave when they care for you, and you know what it feels like, to be able to count on somebody. You instinctively know what feels right, and what is doing yourself a disservice. You appreciate red roses when a loved one brings them to you – not so much if they come with a kick in the teeth.
Here’s the thing about blessings, hard work, and a moral compass do not wrap you up in a fuzzy sense of belonging. They don’t lend themselves to hashtags and themes. They happen regardless of whether there is an audience or not, and they don’t expect thanks afterward.
Blessings don’t keep you warm at night.
They help you sleep better.