What’s the magic ingredient to magic? Being a fool. Or feeling like one, anyway. That’s the price of inviting magic into your life. You’ll feel awkward. Dorky.
Other people get to be thoughtful about their life goals, reasonable and self-assured. When they speak of their aspirations, others nod respectfully at their solid planning. Because their dreams never exceed their grasp, they never make a misstep. But they don’t believe in magic like you do. They’re content with what’s possible and even likely. They don’t swoon at the siren’s song of “what if’s” and “if-only’s,” that fill our minds.
You? When speaking of your dreams, your dearest hopes, you get to feel awkward, ungainly, like the the ballerina hippopotamus in the Walt Disney movie, Fantasia. And the magic that conjures our visions from the ephemera into the here and now demands a sacrifice. It demands our dignity.
In fact, making the choice to believe in magic (or in starting a business, or in going back to school, or in doing just about anything that is wonderful or heroic, or yes, let’s say it magical), is to risk having the world see you as Hyacinth the Hippo Ballerina Queen, being seduced by the evil crocodile prince. She may see herself as a beautiful, delicate queen of all things graceful, but the world at large? They see a hippo in tutu. And the crocodile prince? Oh man, who doesn’t cringe a little as the lithesome, ne’er do well predator sets his sites on our rotund and naïve heroine? She can believe in magic all she wants, but at the end of the day, she’s got to dance with the reptile and everyone knows how that’s going to go.
Yep, magic is like that. Taking a look at the facts (our resume, the economy, bank accounts and unemployment statistics to name a few) and choosing to draw different conclusions than the ones commonly held to be true. It’s awkward, it’s vulnerable-making and yes, those rational people out in the audience eating popcorn and shaking their heads as we pirouette, are definitely label calling us the “f’ word in their minds as they smile at us pityingly.
It would be so easy to join them there, sitting in their cushy seats in the cool and comforting dark. Laughing at those sweating and striving before them, finding them wanting as they scarf down their salty snacks. Who wants to be laughed at?
And it isn’t as if the thoughts running through the minds of our audience haven’t sped through ours as well. We’re not like Hyacinth, innocent and humiliatingly ignorant. We’ve read the articles. Have had those informational interviews and have looked at the stats. We long to say to those smug popcorn eaters, “This isn’t my first rodeo, you know. I get that it’s hard, that I might not make it. You don’t need to tell me, Oh Capitaine of all things Obvious, I know the drill. Back off,” we fantasize. But even if we do put our hand on our hip, nod knowingly as they person-splain about everything we’re doing wrong, gesticulate wildly as we try to convince them we’re not the fool they think we are, it doesn’t matter. We’re still up there in front of them. A hippo in toe shoes, striving for the love of a fickle crocodile. No matter how reasonably we put our case, we’re still in a 3X tutu.
And maybe we are; a fool, I mean. As I said in the beginning, I think foolishness is the price of admission into the magical kingdom of hopes and dreams. So yes, our spectators can feel comfy and smug as they assess our performance and give us a grade, but here’s the thing, they’re the ones sitting in the dark, watching us.
And what about us? We’re smack-dab in the spotlight, shaking things up making them happen. We may be hippo ballerinas trying to dance in a world that’s made for sylphlike sprites. We may be pinning our hearts on a crocodile of dubious intentions. But in the mean-time we’re up here, dancing. And no matter how foolish we feel in the critical gaze of our discerning observers, we’ve just added the final ingredient to the magical potion that conjures our dreams. And damn, doesn’t that breeze feel good as we twirl in the moonlight?!
What magical wish would make it worth it for you to feel foolish?