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Click and Clack Moments

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The recent passing of Tom Magliozzi reminded me of my love for "Car Talk." Not that I know much of anything about cars or really care to, but I, like so many others, delighted in the Magliozzi brothers' capacity to weave intelligent humor and playful banter into their responses to listeners' calls. My husband and I became so enamored by the show that at some point we declared it a "perfect thing" in this world, and decided to refer to other exquisite expressions as being "click and clacks." If we encounter an inspiring performance, art show, book or film -- or maybe a professional doing their job in a skillful way, we'll award the moment as a "click and clack." If I feel particularly moved, I'll add in an Italian kissing of my fingertips and a slight head shake to convey my awe and disbelief that a mere mortal could create whatever extraordinary thing I'm witnessing. If asked to offer a formal definition of a "click and clack" moment, I'd say: It's the RIGHT person doing the RIGHT thing at the RIGHT time in the RIGHT way. Not that I'm a big proponent of "right and wrong thinking," but that's the best way I have to describe it.

When the situation allows, I love letting people know that they've achieved a click and clack -- a habit which has ended up on my kids' list of "embarrassing things that mom does." When they sense my enthusiasm welling up and my mind beginning to plot how to approach the adolescent who just left the stage or the waitress who just comforted a distraught customer, I'll start to hear their shouted whispers, "No Mom, please. People will think you're weird." Or their shortened plea, repeated with an alternating emphasis on the different syllables of their one syllable cry," Oh no, No, nO, NO."

What I've tried to explain to them is that it's much better for me to channel my feedback desires into acknowledging click and clack moments, as opposed to the opposite. "Would you rather have me go up to people and let them know that they are the wrong person doing the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way!?"

Sadly, I have to admit that I encounter far more of such disappointing and irritating experiences in everyday life than I do my beloved click and clack moments. I felt this when finally unplugging my phone last month after receiving one too many pointless, negative election calls. I feel it in moments I'm partially responsible for, like looking up from phone while waiting at a restaurant and realizing that the other three members of my family are also on their phones. In a much larger way, I feel this ache every time I learn of another act of violence done, supposedly, in the "name of God." As my heart wilts in response to acts that are tragic or unskillful, it needs the resuscitation offered by click and clacks.

I've come to see that the arrival of click and clack moments elates my spirit in the same way that the late December discovery of reindeer footprints stirs a child's imagination, or the sighting of a hawk stops us in our tracks. Along with capturing our attention, both suggest the presence of an unseen source of magic and goodness. I think we all need this sort of inspiration. We need reminders that it's possible to be blown away by the awesomeness of life. Whether we stumble upon these moments unexpectedly or set ourselves up for them by purchasing tickets to our favorite performance or traveling to places where nature's vibrancy is undeniable -- we all need regular doses of beauty and rightness and excellence.

My wish for you this holiday season is that your cup is filled with at least one awe-inspiring and moving experience -- whether you're graced with the good fortune of witnessing it or helping to make it happen.

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For more by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D., click here.