This summer my family visited the central coast of California. One of our day trips was to the palatial Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Built by newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, this lavish estate not only accommodates a pastiche of historic architectural styles and priceless antiquities, but as we learned on our tour, at one time, was home to more than 30 exotic species of animals. Tigers, bears, apes, ostriches, buffalo, yaks, emus, kangaroos, llamas, giraffes, and zebras were part of the menagerie that were housed either in private zoo enclosures or allowed to roam the more than 250,000 acres freely.
During Hearst’s financial troubles in the late 1930′s, he could no longer afford to maintain the zoo and the animals were sold or donated to zoos around the state. As we toured the expansive estate, we were told that when the zoo was closed, some of the zebras escaped and if we watched closely we might get a glimpse of some of the descendants of the original zebra inhabitants, grazing among the present day cattle herd.
Upon hearing this, I was determined to see this unusual sight. All morning during the drive up and down the hillside and around the estate, I scoured the range to glimpse the distinctive striped markings among the sea of typical brown cows. But I saw nothing.
As we began to drive back down the highway after our visit, I lamented to my husband and son that “I really wanted to see a zebra!”
My husband motioned to the herd of brown cows, grazing in the field next to the road, “There are zebras,” he said.
“Those are cows!” I protested.
My husband, trying not to disappoint me, said, “They’re just dirty!”
We laughed and I looked away to sulk privately, when my son piped up from the backseat, “No, Mom, they really ARE zebras. Look!”
We had driven just a few more hundred feet which had revealed the backside of a slope. There on the other side of the rise among the brown cows were six zebras. It was such a magical moment that none of us really thought to take pictures, savoring the moment in our minds instead.
Later as I reflected on this event, I realized that had I continued to pout and give up hope in finding what I sought, I might have missed the very magical moment I so wanted to experience. It was a good reminder that there is always something magical in the things around us every day-in our interactions with our families, friends, co-workers and even our dogs. We just have to be aware, patient and never give up hope that they will be revealed to us when the time is right.
So today when you look at something that you see every day, look a little closer. You may just see there’s magic in the Aire!