Sunday, January 2, 2011

Some small magic

From Christmas, sent by my sister, Tracy Gallup's A ROOMFUL OF QUESTIONS, which opens with following quote:

" patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers...Live the questions now."
-Rainer Maria Rilke
from Letters to a Young Poet

Among the questions we are asked to love is at least one to which I may have an answer. Is magic in every one of us? Yes.

We've discussed here Carl Sagan's belief that we are star stuff, Shakespeare's description that we are such stuff as dreams are made of. How is it possible to be that and not possess magic?

Instead of rising each day, secure in the knowledge that we will either witness or accomplish at least one impossible thing, we shuffle magic to the bottom of the pile. It surrenders its place in line to health insurance forms, an oil change, radical hair loss, phone calls we don't want to take. Lime deposits, using the last Swiffer dust cloth, fatigue and the narrowing of vision that comes from the task being alive conspire to dim our memories of our true natures.

This is not show business magic, we are not going to escape from straight jackets in sealed, water-filled tanks. We will not go "presto change-o" with a very large silken cloth and show you the empty spot where Jumbo the elephant just stood. Illusion is skill. Real magic is simply part of us. We arrived with it in our satchels and no amount of distraction or forgetfulness will change that.

Magic is our accessory, it is our super power, our salvation. When it is alert and present, our lives expand, senses and dimensions increase. Our unsteady heartbeats normalize, our brain chatter quiets, we become peaceful and serenely, foolishly happy. We are home, for the moment nothing else matters.

With crazy genius luck, one dose of magic will stretch until the next. For as long as it lasts, we can walk it like a high wire above ordinary concerns which will seem to resolve themselves. To sustain magic takes intention. It requires a single-mindedness for which everyday life leaves scant opportunity.

So we learn to treasure it, to recognize its least obvious forms, to shelter its tentative flames and keep them burning.

Magic, of course, is all about questions. They are the place it begins and the core of its nature. What we are allowed to know is that it is. And that it is us.


Kass said...

The childlike awe that this kind of magic suggests is the trait of one who has infinite curiosity.

To me, computers are magic and yet there are people who understand them completely.

Nature is magic. Love is magic. So many things are magical and yet so many skeptics would dissuade us from magical thinking.

I want to keep a balance between practicality and wonder, yet live with the kind of poetry awareness your post suggests.

Penelope said...

In need of magic today, I seize your words, with many thanks for shaping them so appealingly, Marylinn.

Artist and Geek said...

Another magical post :) When I first read it I could not choose amongst the thoughts it evoked.
The magic of the mundane? That someone invented the magic of light turned on by a switch. The magic of technology that creates a hot beverage on a timer?
The magic of creativity, inspiration, ideas, imagination.
The magical use of words by Rilke.
The perception of reality.
The potential magic of pen on paper, brush on canvas.

Serenely, foolishly happy. Thank you.

Pamela Johnson Parker said...

Magic-image-imagination. Poetry for me is that kind of linked spell.

Happy New Year, writer who always makes me muse.


RachelVB said...

Aren't those magic moments incredible? I feel like I had one last night where everything seemed in its place, everything seemed to work MAGICALLY. And I'll ride it until the next one.
It's making me think of a quote from a Pam Houston story about native american belief and the imagination. I can't remember the quote exactly and don't want to butcher it. Of course the book is at home. We never know what we'll need to carry in our days, do we? I'll post back tonight when I can find it. Sorry for being a tease =)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Always the balance, I agree, for we still need to be in and of the world, at least most of us do. I do find magic in genius - creative, scientific...the visionaries, to know something that has never been known before. Wishful thinking is what I think gives magic a bad reputation. It is something very different. It IS nature, it is love, poetry, beauty and grace and inspiration. The miraculous is around and within us.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Penelope - How happy it makes me to know that this reminder, which I needed myself, arrived at the right moment for you. Thank you. One of my rubber stamps says, "Impossible Things Happen." I stand by that.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Clearly one who knows all the corners in which magic can hide. Or sees through its disguises. Wonder, awe, remind us to take nothing for granted. Hasn't it been said there are no small miracles?

Thank you. Nothing can match those moments of serene, foolish happiness.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Pamela - Thank you and Happy New Year to all its peace, beauty and unfolding blessings.

I owe poets and poetry a great debt. They/you reminded me of, restored me to, those forgotten links.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Far from being a tease, you give us something to anticipate.

When it all comes together, I don't know what to call it other than magic, a high anyone would want to sustain. It can grow a bit thin sometimes, waiting for the next one, but we've been here before. It seems to be the way it works.

Look forward to hearing from you later.

RachelVB said...

One of the characters from Pam Huston's short story "In My Next Life" is part Cherokee and believes in Shamanic healing. She believes that people have different amounts of spiritual potential and that healing occurs in the mind as a sort of journey. On this journey of the mind one must take the aid of a continual drumbeat and his or her "power animal" - which serves as the 'patient's' interpreter and guardian. But the main character is trying to see things in the same spiritual way as this Cherokee character "Abby"
It's more of a passage:
"One thing was certain. I believed what Abby saw. If she said she rose into the stars and followed them to South Africa, if she danced on the rooftops of Paris with her ancestors, if she and her power animal made love in the Siberian snow, I believed her. I sill believe her. Abby didn't lie.
But it wasn't only the magic. Abby was gentle and funny and talked mostly with her hands. She made great mashed potatoes. She had advanced degrees in botany, biology, and art history. And the horses, Abby loved her horses more than any power animal her imagination could conjure up.
'The Indians don't believe in imagination,' she told me.
'They don't even have a word for it. Once you understand that fully this all becomes much easier.'"

What I came to understand of that is magic, imagination is so much a part of them they need nothing to define it, nothing to pinpoint that it exists. It's as common as breathing, walking, blinking. And I liked that - the idea of living in magic.

Robert the Skeptic said...

For me I often replace the term "magic" for awe or wonder. But I find the terms no less endearing than in the way you mean to invoke magic.

Thinking that we are greater than the sum of our parts, for example.. or that the effects of the partnership of me and my wife seem to be greater than merely the sum of two.

Donna B. said...

Some times I feel inadequate to comment here. The way you weave words on a page is magic to me. You have such insightful interesting commenters as well... Creativity is magic and you have it in spades!!!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a quote from city of angels,

"Some thngs are true whether you believe in them or not."

Donna B. said...

Popping in again to suggest a weekly invitation to be creative. Tess Kincaid of Willow Manor has another website, Mag Pie Tales
She provides the motivational original photograph and we are invited to write something we feel from the pic. Maybe you and possibly some of your blogging friends may find it interesting...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Thank you for returning with the story, quote and its meaning for you. I very much agree...I know other cultures see the world so differently than we've been trained to do. Not even requiring a word for the realms to which our mind takes us, I like that too and I have a half hope/half belief that we can find our way back to that. It has not left us entirely.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - Your examples match my interpretation of what magic can be. It reminds me that so much of what is wondrous comes from our connections, ways of discovering through others, through nature. We are made greater through love.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Donna - Those who visit and comment are indeed gifts and, as Robert pointed out, the sum is greater than the parts, as extraordinary as they are. Which includes you. There are times when I need to visit a posting several times to find a voice or a word that seems fitting. Sometimes it doesn't arrive. Thank you for being part of this. And thank you for the invitation and link to Tess Kincaid's project.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Could not have said it better. I choose to believe that what IS is so much more vast and extraordinary that we know. My hope is that more and more of it will be revealed.

T. said...

Not magic but certainly an astonishment: 16 months ago my husband lost his camera in a sweater shop in the Aran Islands; he left the proprietor his address in case it turned up -- and it did, three days ago, in the mail. No note, just the camera, all 534 photos intact.

This is a beautifully written piece, Marylinn. I read it and reread much to savor.

Marylinn Kelly said...

T - Thank you, and for sharing the story of honesty, kindness and happy surprise. Don't you think we get to assign our own definitions to such experiences? I love hearing of the lost being found.