Keeping The Magic Fresh- Doug Irvin
One of the sad state of affairs we humans have to put up with is that when we grow out of childhood, our imaginations are stunted. It’s like the loss of milk teeth triggers a drying up of our sense of wonderment.
It doesn’t have to happen that way.
In fact, for some people it doesn’t happen at all.
The best part of childhood is looking at everything through new eyes. As adults, we tend to treat a new wonder as so much ho-hum by the eighth day. That’s very true, even for children. I have a three year old grand daughter who managed to hack her mom’s smart phone and would call me every morning. She doesn’t know how the magic works for calling, but she’s utterly used to using it.
Fortunately, it is possible to train yourself – even starting from adulthood – to regain the sense of wonder.
I call it recapturing the magic.
As we grow and mature, our minds are forced into narrower and narrower channels of thought. For some, though, even as they learn the lessons needed for adult pursuits they still manage to retain that sense of newness.
The writer/philosopher C. S. Lewis who wrote a fantasy series called the Chronicles of Narnia, understood the process of recapturing magic. It’s a matter of looking beyond mere details, to what might be called the meta-data. Not ‘what is it?’ but ‘what is it about?’ or maybe even ‘why is it?’.
This was demonstrated in a scene from Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The crew members have landed on a far away island, where they find men caught in an enchanted sleep. They finally meet the owners of the island, who are pressed for sailing details for the region beyond the island.
“And are we near the World’s End now, Sir?” asked Caspian. “Have you any knowledge of the seas and lands further east than this?”
“I saw them long ago,” said the Old Man, “but it was from a great height. I cannot tell you such
things as sailor need to know.”
“Do you mean you were flying in the air?” Eustace blurted out.
“I was a long way above the air, my son,” replied the Old Man. “I am Ramandu. But I see that you stare at on another and have not heard this name. And no wonder, for the days when I was a star had ceased long before any of you knew this world, and all the constellations have changed.”
“Golly,” said Edmund under his breath. “He’s a retired star.”
“Aren’t you a star any longer?” asked Lucy.
“I am a star at rest, my daughter,” answered Ramandu
“When I set for the last time, decrepit and old beyond all that you can reckon, I was carried to
this island. I am not so old now as I was then. Every morning a bird brings me a fire-berry from
the valleys in the Sun, and each fire-berry takes away a little of my age. And when I have become
as young as the child that was born yesterday, then I shall take my rising again (for we are at
earth’s eastern rim) and once more tread the great dance.”
“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”
“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”
Eustace had been one of those tiresome people who strive for adulthood by ignoring and disdaining anything considered childish. Fortunately for him, this trip managed to work a new sense of possibilities into him.
We are fortunate indeed if we can find a sense of newness again.
There is magic everywhere around us.
I don’t speak of the arcane and mystic arts as portrayed in Harry Potter or any of the urban fantasy stories prevalent.
I’m talking about the glory of a soap bubble. When you can see one, and even knowing the mechanics of making one you rejoice in the brief existence it has, then you are on the path of regaining your childhood magic.
I know scientists who yet have that magic. They see a rainbow, and though they can explain the physical properties in how they form, they still smile at the beauty – and maybe even hope for a pot of gold at the end.
When the magic is sucked out of a life, the body may breathe and move, but the real life is missing.
I tried to instill a lasting appreciation for magic in my children. And I’m proud to say that in at least one case, they continue that with their children.
When you have the magic, the world is full of possibilities. There may be giants, but they are friendly. Dragons wait to have their heads patted. What others see as a swarm of dragonflies, you can see their inherent faerie nature.
You can know the mechanics of reality, and still rejoice in its unknowns.
You can see the star is a huge ball of flaming gas.
But you also know that star has a personality that perhaps you can come to know.
If you have the magic.