TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I learned about magic. When I was under six years old, I asked (told) God to turn me into a witch. I told God that I would know the deal was complete when I heard a little bell.
We went to my grandma and grandpa’s Catholic church that Sunday, and, lo and behold, I heard the little bell that sounds during communion. Wow!
This morning I am remembering that feeling of underwhelm in the after glow of being turned into a witch by God.
Magic still has that effect on me. In fact, several decades later, anytime I am confronted with what feels like Magic — slick talking, snap-the-fingers and ‘voila!’, distraction-using, sleight-of-hand — I get cynical and I start asking questions. Soon, the veil is lifted and I can clearly see the man behind the smoke and mirrors.
Science also gets me questioning but in an entirely different way: A new discovery triggers my curiosity, and as I ask question after question, instead of becoming more and more underwhelmed, my wonder, awe, and excitement grows.
This week I had several conversations that centered around the Magic vs Science of therapy.
Therapy, self-help, self-improvement, whatever you want to call it — if it feels Magical, there’s a good chance that you will end up underwhelmed once the smoke lifts.
If it feels a bit like a well-used gym — I know, I just mixed metaphors but I think they are related — a place where you feel supported and welcomed, but where you also come to work, a place where, after diligently practicing you may feel less anxious, a bit more clear headed, more relaxed in your skin, calmer, more at peace — this is how it should feel. Decidedly un-Magical.
This was in a telegram reported in the New York Times (25 May 1946): ATOMIC EDUCATION URGED BY EINSTEIN; Scientist in Plea for $200,000 to Promote New Type of Essential Thinking
That quote came to mind this week as I pondered Magical thinking and how much I am drawn to it — still.
When problems seem too much for me to solve and especially when a little voice inside me is kinda tugging at my heart saying, “listen” while a rather loud voice in my head is winning out telling me to, oh, I don’t know, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or obsess a little more over some abstract current topic…yeah, especially then, I am drawn to Magical thinking.
Einstein specifically meant that we needed to move away from Nationalism. He was speaking about a very specific and important topic. That quote, though, has become a bit magical over the years and lost its original meaning.
Maybe it’s the rain, the cold, the coming winter. But my prompt this morning is to ask you to try to sit for a few minutes with your still quiet voice and listen.
What is that voice saying to you? After the chatter stops, after you quietly and calmly ask the chattering to quiet down, if just for a minute. After your breathing calms and slows down, what is one thing that still, quiet voice tells you?
Maybe try a little game: Magic or Science?
Sometimes, I guess obviously, it’s neither :) Faith, for example. Or dinner.
But there are lots of times when you might hear something, or read something and have a moment when you ask yourself what you should do with this information. Is it worth listening to?
Consider this week asking what happens when you try to peer behind the curtain? When you take it apart, what happens? When you ask questions, what happens? When you take away any glitzy, shiny stuff, what happens?
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Maybe try to incorporate a bit of practice into your life: switching back to the other metaphor now, try to add one thing into your life that makes you feel better, not in the moment, but after that moment.
A lot like the gym, or doing your homework, or (not) eating the pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
by Shel Silverstein
Sandra's seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins' gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.
9. Anti Hero: Edward Bernays —Father of Public Relations
Why? He is a magic-maker. He coined the term “public relations”. His life was spent trying to help us become less good at clear thinking.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Magic episode Thursday.