So first of all, about me.
My life is crazy right now. I’ve almost been afraid to write a to-do list, because it would have, not so many things on it, but such large things: Write story due by the end of the month. Find criticism I will be teaching this fall. And sometimes, that makes me feel as though I can’t breathe. So I haven’t been very good at posting on this blog, and my website is out of date, and altogether I’m just terribly behind. I think the problem is that being a writer is a full-time job, and being a teacher is a full-time job, so I have two full-time jobs. And I need to try to do both of them well.
Have patience with me. I will get through this, and things will be easier, although I’m honestly not sure when yet.
But there was something I really wanted to write about today, which is a quotation that I saw on a friend’s Facebook page:
“Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy’s edge, all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all.” — Gore Vidal
It was posted after the death of Gore Vidal of course, and I “liked” it, as one does on Facebook, because I think it’s beautifully written. But I don’t think it’s true.
I think that thinking of our material universe, the one we perceive with our sense, as the only thing is not only foolish, it is arrogant. As well as, if I may add, in contradiction to theoretical physics. I believe — I have always believed — that there is meaning and purpose to life, although we may not understand that meaning and purpose. I think we catch glimpses of it here and there, and I honestly think that the universe communicates it to us, if we can listen for it — if our perceptions are finely enough tuned. All my life, I’ve had a strong sense of purpose, of being here for a reason that I might not at that moment understand, but that something, somewhere, understood. The times I’ve been unhappy in my life are when I’ve gone off the path, when I’ve realized that I made a choice taking me away from the way I was supposed to go. I remember what it was like to go to law school and to feel, so deeply that it went to my core, as though I was in the wrong place, as though I had stepped off the path. The path itself feels narrow and rocky, sometimes. Sometimes it feels as though I’m walking along a gulley, or a high cliff with winds. But it feels like a path, as though I’m going somewhere.
I don’t know how to talk about this except by saying that we have instincts, and our instincts tell us these things, and we have to trust them.
I think part of my purpose in this life is to talk about magic, and to make it. Because we’ve lost the idea of magic — we feel like Vidal, in a wholly material universe that has no meaning, and that is a terrifying place to be. But we are like children terrifying ourselves with stories that aren’t true, or even very interesting. The problem with finding the magic is that I think you have to believe it’s there to find it.
That’s a bit of a rant for tonight, so I’ll leave you with an image:
We have to keep returning to our core values.
We have to keep turning on our centers of experience.
It does not matter how much chaos there is all around us —
When there is order in our minds, when our minds are in order,
There will be ways to join the rays from the hearts of our being.
I think the Vidal quote is a fair response to those who would avoid the problems of the everyday world, putting them off onto another generation to solve because they are so enamored with the carrot-on-a-string that heaven (whatever their idea of heaven) provides. And I’m not sure if I believe in the kind of personal purpose re: the universe you describe–although I must say I admire it. But I do agree that Vidal’s perspective is far too limited, and that a life lived without allowing for the possibility of mystery and magic is lacking something. And I would emphasize the mystery–for me the traditional religious idea of spirituality and heaven sounds a bit too much like climbing the corporate ladder–you’ll achieve your ultimate goal only if you properly hit the steps. Me, I’m clumsy—I’m always falling off.
Afterwards….I can see the pattern. I learn to trust it. This move seeming so sensible
and ‘right,’ was a horrible blunder. This side trip turns out to be “IT,” Luckily I read
“The Artist’s Way,” defining synchronicity succinctly; by Julia Cameron. Amusing
synchronicity, the other Julia Cameron, 19th century photographer of beautiful and mythic portraits is one of my heroes.
I’m not sure whether that is true… but it should be.
Well, I do believe in the “knowledge of the organism”–sometimes we can simply sense what is the right step to take, even though it defies logic, even though the methodology we’ve used is completely opaque to us. Perhaps that’s a kind of magic, or perhaps it’s simply a type of processing we don’t yet fully understand, so it remains a mystery.
Charles Peirce discussed this under the heading of the old Aristotelian term, apagoge, or abductive reason, the knack of nicking a game-changing move from the middle of a muddled play.
That’s IT. The mystery. I’ve learned to limit expectations and
just do what occurs to me. Try a new street to walk on instead of
the usual one. In a way, my life is an unfolding plot and I don’t know the way it ends. Does anybody?
This is partly how I understand the motif of magic spells in fairy tales and fantasy literature. The strange-but-often-enough-true notion that just the right form of words will catalyze change and transform reality — for good, we hope, or ill, we fear —, motivates the quest that problem solvers, social commentators, soul healers, and writers of all genres share.
I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling with the whole writing/teaching-balance thing. I mean, I’m not glad that you’re struggling. I mean, you know what I mean. 😛
I’m also glad I’m not the only one who feels that sense of purpose, which is a happier thing to be glad of.
Also, I know it’s not something you talked about in this particular entry, but I’ve been enjoying following your adventures in decorating!
Thank you for talking and writing about magic so eloquently.