Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poverty to Pixie Dust



pixie dust

noun

a substance or influence with an apparently magical effect that brings great success or luck

ORIGIN 1950s: from the magic dust that enabled humans to fly in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan.



A friend suggested the other day that, perhaps, my beloved pixie dust is not real. Well. He didn’t exactly use the word “perhaps.” While we are much alike on many issues, I am going to have to veer paths on this one. The problem with pixie dust is that it’s fun and fluff and light and happy. Some people have issue with that. Nothing about it can be observed or quantified. Nothing about it is based in reality. It’s the stuff of fairy tales and children’s play. It’s all in the head.

Fine. Crush my dreams.

Let’s look first at the definition (I like that pixie dust has a definition. That makes me smile.). Seems this wonder of mine is “a substance or influence with an apparently magical effect.” Let’s come back to that part later. For now, let’s focus on the fact—can I call it a fact?—that pixie dust brings great success or luck. You should know that I don’t believe in luck. I know. Here I am trying to convince you of the existence of some sprinkling twinkles that light up the world and yet I am running around shouting, sorry, Virginia, there is no such thing as luck. I don’t believe that life just happens to us regardless what we do or don’t. I believe that life, a good life, happens through hard work and determination and perspiration, lots of perspiration, and other very unladylike, but incredibly necessary terms.

I believe that we make our own luck, that we go looking for a change, and that we then make that change happen. We make that change happen with words like resiliency, optimism, grit. We make that change happen with elbow grease and gumption and a smidge of pigheadedness. Nobody ever gets out of a bad place by sitting in it and complaining about being there. No, we get out of a bad place with every bit of fortitude we have. If we are smart, we will also utilize huge amounts of pixie dust.

And just like luck, we can’t sit around waiting for that pixie dust to show up.

It’s like chocolate. Some people go to the specialty stores and pick up the tiniest little chunk in the shape of some nut or flower, tied with a fat red grosgrain ribbon. Me? I load up on mine in bulk at the warehouse store. Same with pixie dust. I’m not holding out for something special. I want loads of the stuff every day. I’m going out looking for it, tossing it in my cart quick before the mom with the whining kids and the list a mile long beats me to it.

But it helps to know what you’re looking for. So. Back to the first part of the definition—pixie dust: a substance or influence with an apparently magical effect.

Maybe pixie dust as a term is too out there for some. Maybe we should call it opportunity, synchronicity, circumstance. I would go the fate, fortune, karma route but that would get me into just as much trouble as the flying fairy dust. I believe that sometimes circumstances are such that a window of opportunity opens, even just a crack, at just the right time. This is where reality, or rather determination, comes into play because that window can sit open forever, but if we fail to see it, to do anything with it, then our lives continue on as is. That said, if we are being smart, we don’t sit around waiting for open windows to show up out of nowhere. We go out searching for them. Yes, we attack our bad situations with determination and persistence and grit and every bit of elbow grease we can muster. However, sometimes even that is not enough to change a life, sometimes all of that together isn’t even close. Sometimes we need the right circumstance at the right time with the right people and right opportunity. But if we go around with our eyes closed and our mouths spewing words of regret over our sad, sad lives, then we never see that tiny breath of fresh air. We never even notice that it's there.

Sadly, we are just not set up as a culture to help some people live that American dream, to get out of that bad situation, to live a better life. Sometimes even with desire and trying we get much of nowhere. Sometimes we need that open window, that sprinkling of magic.

Sure, reality is important. But, in my world, pixie dust is reality. Sometimes it’s the only reality.

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