This time of year always makes me think about magic. Your own magic.
I don’t use that word lightly; I’m talking about the powerful force inside you that you might call “energy,” or “qi,” or “unique gifts,” or “life force.”
But also just straight up mystical mysterious magic.
As a little kid, I believed that I could hear and sense information coming from the growing things around me. Flowers, grass, trees, vegetables– they all had different colors and feelings and sounds coming from them. I could get utterly absorbed in a tulip; it was like falling into another world. I loved nothing more than being outside, all by myself, and letting what I thought of as “the colors” happen to me. I’d walk, or twirl, or crouch down, and soften something inside myself, and it would all open up to me.
Sometimes, if I could get still enough, I could feel a kind of golden rain that would drift down and swirl all the colors and sounds together. My body hummed, deeply quiet, but also an engaged participant in the big color song happening all around me.
In those moments, I believed that I could do things if I just figured out the trick: fly, transform, heal, create something out of nothing, go other places.
I believed completely in my own magic.
Every chance I get this week, I’ve been going horizontal.
Flat on my back, on a bed or couch or grass or tree trunk, is my favorite way to let new things come in. You might call it meditating, but strict meditators would tell you it’s closer to daydreaming. No shame. This is how new ideas, new dreams, new connections, and new insights arrive for me. It’s my job to sneak away from all the things requiring my attention and find moments to require myself to pay attention to their wispiness, because in those wisps is my actual magic.
And magic arrives, first, as yearning.
It took me a long time to understand this.
Some fucked-up things happened to me as a kid, as happens to most kids. But the thing that steered me most astray was that as a sensual, dreamy kid steeped in evangelical christian culture, I came to believe, through no one’s ill intent, that my own yearnings were wrong.
That the more intensely I longed for something, the more dangerous it must be. That the better something felt, the more evil it surely was.
I applied this logic to my own magic.
As a heathen mystic adult, I now believe the exact opposite.
I believe that our longings are pointing us toward the biggest good, the deepest magic, the most beautiful possibilities.
Life coach types often ask people, “What did you know as a kid?” They’re trying to get to a kind of personal essence, to connect to a part of you that is yours alone.
But I think that’s the wrong question. Our socialization comes crashing onto us so early, so quickly, before we have words or constructs to understand what’s happening, that much of what we once “knew” to be true will turn out, later, to have been a mere cultural myth.
(Like the idea that beauty is wrong, or girls are less valuable, or trees can’t talk.) These were things I knew to be true, things that I learned; things that turned out to be utter horseshit.
But what I longed for? My yearnings?
Those were true. Those were good.
I hoped for a bigger world. I longed for beauty and possibility, fairness and freedom and okayness.
And now, as an adult, I get to create that.
What about you? What did you hope was true as a kid? Not what you believed to be true, but what you wished COULD be true?
That you could be safe, that you were loved, that you were good enough, that it would all turn out ok. That the good guys would win in the end. That it turned out you had superpowers. That there would be enough to go around. That magic really did exist. That you’re meant for something bigger. That someday you’d be seen, loved, known, and that the impossible shiny thing could be yours and you’d find your true people.
What did you long for?
That’s your magic calling to you.
The good news is that while we still carry all the child versions of ourselves inside us, we’re also grown-ass grown-up now. I mean, most of the time. We have all this muscle and information and boundaries and vocabularies– plus cell phones and credit cards!
So we get to come alongside ourselves and revisit our own first yearnings. How amazing would it be if we lived into those original hopes with the power and agency of adult selves?
For me, that means living like I’m a valuable, beloved, holy bit of everything. Making choices as if beauty is a form of sacred, and mystery and magic are as real as what we call the “real” world.
I used to think I ought to be able to heal things with my hands. Now I try to heal people’s hearts with my hands, typing away each week on this keyboard.
I used to know that acts of beauty– dancing, singing, swaying, breathing in a flower– connected me to that great deep loving force I didn’t have a word for. Now I do acts of beauty as my spiritual practice, from clearing off my kitchen island at night to turning my office into a gorgeous and inspiring tableau.
I used to think that I could talk to animals. Now I take my clients on private horse whispering retreats, where they learn things from these gentle giant animals that are deeper and sweeter than words.
I used to think that there was a force just BEAMING at me when I laid down in the grass or climbed a tree. I could feel it pouring down from the moon, kissing me from the ocean. And now? Well. I still believe that exact thing. And now that I’ve gotten so much bigger, now I get to beam back.
I’m reminding the universe what it told me through my own longing when I was a child. There is room for all of us. We are who we are, and it’s perfect. We are so, so loved. There are things that shatter us, but there are things that can put us back together too. We get to decide if we’re going to be part of the shattering or the rebuilding. And the worst shattering is what we do to ourselves in our own minds, when we disbelieve our deepest truths– which come to us in our deepest longings.
I believe that if you long for it, it’s because the universe longs for it too.
And yes, by that logic, I do believe that I’m meant to live in Brambly Hedge and talk to trees and grow flowers and write things that bring joy and healing and delight. Maybe you’re meant to live in the big city and build structures– physical, financial, political, philosophical– with your mind. Maybe you’re meant to create the coziest nook to snuggle into and tend to people and animals. Maybe you’re meant to– I don’t know! Write dark, twisted, funny things that make us look at everything differently! Design incredible clothes! Make cards out of appliances! Maybe you’re supposed to paint or lead a revolution or light things on fire.
Listen to your yearnings, no matter how unlikely or scandalous they might seem. And– very important– even if you have no idea how you’ll make them happen. Let yourself just have the poignancy sweet sting of the yearning itself first. It has a mysterious power to bring you back home, and then you take you somewhere entirely different.
Try going horizontal (tell people you’re meditating!) and see what comes through.
Pay extra attention to your own longings.
Because they are your magic.