jak sent me this post from Lizzi the Considerer, in which she discusses the origins of magic in each of us. The post opened a window in my psyche to my innocent younger self and I found myself longing to give that self expression.
I encountered magic in many different areas of my childhood. My dad, who was a science teacher, taught me a lot of things that seemed magical to me at the time. He taught me about the magic of gravity and why they make egg cartons the way that they do. He taught me the magic of the movement of the earth, moon, and sun and the stars surrounding them. He taught me about wind and updrafts and rockets and weather. He showed me that beauty could be found in out of the way places, like the woods or the mountains. In wondering awe, I followed his every move. He was like a hero in one of those fairy tale stories to me. The most important magic he taught me was the magic of getting information. Step 1. Ask a question. Step 2. Consider what the answer might be. Step 3. Research. Step 4. Test out your answer. Step 5. Repeat. My grandfather taught me magic of a similar kind. He said a day in which you learn something new is a day not entirely wasted.
There was other magic, however. A more spiritual kind of magic and I found this, more often than not, in books. My mother was the one who gave me this magic. She began by reading the words in a book and pointing to them one by one while I sat in her lap until I understood that the words on the page meant the same things as sounds coming from her mouth. Before long, I was reading on my own. I delved deep into books that swept me away to other worlds where there were pirates, knights, wizards, good and evil were clearly obvious and I felt safe.
I learned to prefer stories where the hero was a girl. The story titled East ‘o the Sun and West ‘o the Moon was one of those. The prince is cursed and the girl must find and wake him. The Snow Queen is another one. When my mother introduced me to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, as you may have guessed, I latched on to the tough and wily Cimorene because she was a princess, yet she was smart and, if she was in trouble, could probably save herself. Each book was like a magic portal to me. I rode them into the worlds that they opened into and met the characters that they contained. They became like friends to me as I watched them work their way through their lives.
Then that business with Mr. X happened. I’ll tell you, I have little patience for people who selfishly steal the magic from a little kid’s life. However, I clung to the magic I had been given before Mr. X came into my life. I continued to use the magic of science to learn and grow and I used the magic of reading and books to escape from the painful reality of my world. Books became a kind of secret hideaway where I could go and be safe. Things always worked out in books. The good guy always came out stronger and the bad guy always got caught and punished. In reality, things didn’t seem that way to me at all. I was frightened that more bad things would happen to me. Some small part of me wondered if what happened with Mr.X had happened to me because I was bad. I’ve since learned that this isn’t the case, but at the time I couldn’t help but wonder.
Time and hard work have healed most of those wounds. Now, I work day and night to try and share the powerful magic my parents gave me with my own children. Some of that magic lives inside my very soul and I find that I can use the magic of words to make the stories in my head have a life all their own. I’ve found that there’s a magic in storytelling, too. A magic that those of us who possess it need to share to keep it alive. I haven’t had much of an audience other than my own children who are willing to listen as I work my particular brand of magic, but I have found a place where I can share my magic here on the internet and, as difficult as it is to come up with new and interesting stories every week, re-reading some of what I’ve written and some of the comments on them reignites that powerful magic in me and inspires me to write more.
So, Lizzi, in answer to your questions. Yes, I do believe in magic. I’m not sure I ever stopped believing in it. Life and my parents have taught me that magic can exist in just about anything. It exists in books, science, art, the sky, prayer. It is wherever you care to look for it. Any thing that brings that childlike wonder back to your heart again, that is where you’ll find true magic.
Now it’s your turn to answer Lizzi’s questions. Have you ever tried to make the world more magical? Did anything incredible happen to you as a small child, and leave an indelible memory of wonder? Do you think it’s a good thing to try to prolong the belief that sometimes, amazing things CAN *just happen*?