Monday, August 19, 2013

Do I Believe In Magic?

Someone asked me, at my first book signing last month, whether I believe in magic.  I was awkward and stumbled for words and felt like a complete doofus.  It’s a question I should have been prepared for because I wrote a book entitled Magic All Around.  But I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t have quick words to explain what I do or do not believe.  You wouldn’t think it would be such a complex issue, but it is.  As a purveyor of words and a proponant of integrity, it’s a question that I feel compelled to answer honestly. 
To answer honestly, I must start by telling you that I am an atheist and was raised as an atheist.  (FYI: This is NOT an invitation to proselytize and I am NOT open to attempts at conversion so just DON’T DO IT!  Thank you.)  I’ve had a few agnostic moments, but the notion of a creator isn’t something that makes sense to me.  It’s not a concept that resonates or calls to me.  I am a skeptic.  Not just regarding religion, but about everything.  When I read the results of research, I question the data collection methods, the sample and the conclusions.  I actively reject significant portions of the culture I live in and when I talk to people, it’s not unusual for me to question their semantics, their motives or their memory!  I know it’s annoying sometimes, (not to mention distracting) but it’s not malicious.  This is just how I’m built, how I’m wired, how I think.  I was not raised to question authority, I was raised to question and challenge everything.  Including my own skepticism.  Yes, that does get me chasing my own tail round and round!
In addition to being a skeptic, I am an avid observer and lover of life.  I’ve observed that life is filled with stuff that I can’t explain.  I am tremendously skeptical about some of the foundational beliefs of chiropractic practice, but for many people (including me) chiropractic adjustments can alleviate pain.  I am skeptical about the existence of spirits and ghosts, yet I’ve been moved to goose-bumps and tears by places and inanimate objects like the Lincoln Memorial and Betsy Ross’s hand stitched flag.  I am deeply skeptical about the phenomenon of synchronicity and am well-versed in the ways that our minds filter, sift and sort information to create stories and patterns.  Yet, I am still filled with wonder when a new word, idea or author seems to appear in my life as though to answer a question I didn’t know I needed to ask.
So, do I believe in magic?
Well, I certainly don’t expect to be able to teleport and I don’t plan on meeting any tiny winged humanoids, but I do believe that life is filled with wonder, with potential and with that which we cannot explain.  I do believe that the wild storms of Southeast Alaska, when the rain blows sideways and the ocean turns the color of pewter, fill me with energy and a zest for life.  I do believe that the glittering slime of a slug fills me with delight that all living things have beauty and I do believe that each of us is capable of far more than we realize.  I believe that a single act of kindness can change a life, I believe that a good nap can transform a problem into a solution and I believe that a whiff of chocolate has the power to alter our brain chemistry.
But, do I believe in magic?
I believe in life.  I believe in death.  I believe in wonder, awe and bewilderment.  I believe in things that we cannot explain.  I believe in things that we can explain but that still fill us with amazement.  I believe all of it, all the wonder, horror, beauty, hope, despair, pain, joy…all of it, is magic.  This life.  This existence.  I cannot explain it.  I don’t subscribe to a religious explanation and even some of the scientific explanations leave me skeptical.  But it fills me with wonder and a sense of the majestic, the magnificent and the magical.   I do believe in magic.


Magic All Around is available in digital and paperback formats from Amazon and can be special ordered for purchase at most brick and mortar bookstores.

May your week be filled with wonder and magic!