Magical Thinking Works, Only If Your Fairy Godmother Is Science
“What a brash statement!” I can hear you mumble to yourself. Or perhaps, the silent “WTF” is forming on your lips.
First let me give you a little background on how I have been through the journey of having my decades long wishes of magical thinking come true.
I just happen to be a transgender woman who transitioned from male to female in 2011 at the age of 64. For well over five decades there was hardly a morning that I did wake up with one of my first thoughts wishing for the magic of no longer being a boy, but each day after I looked, and checked, and verified this magical wish was not granted, I took in a big breath and began to face the day with, honestly, some disappointment and the awareness, that I could never share that wish with anyone.
When we talk about magic or magical thinking, I think it is best to start with a few definitions so we can start at a common ground. I like the following three definitions to try to gain this focus.
Magic — Imaginary Power
(esp. in stories for children) the use of special powers to make things happen that would usually be impossible
Magic — Imaginary Power
..the skill of performing tricks to entertain people, such as making things seem to appear and disappear, or the tricks performed
Magic — Special Quality
A special, exciting quality that makes something or someone different and better than others: As an actress, she has lost none of her magic, and she is still thrilling to watch
A quick summary is that when we refer to magic, we think of special powers, tricks, or exciting qualities.
Witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned
- Leigh Brackett, 1942
On my own journey, I learned that there were no special powers, and although there may have been some tricks with makeup and padding when I cross-dressed, it took the special quality of well-trained medical surgeons (i.e. the learned science) to allow me to fulfill all my magical thinking of becoming who I truly am. At the age of 64, these medical surgeons, my very own fairy godmothers, were able to make my wishes come true, which to this day, I truly think of as magic. Without their training, their understanding of hormones and anatomy and their surgical skills, which are more their special qualities than their special powers, I would still be fighting an internal battle that I doubt could ever come to a happy ending. But enough about me, which is mostly old news, as I have previously written much about my own journey in my books, blogs and podcasts. Let’s look at the state of our world today.
It is not often that a single word can convey as many meanings it has in so short a time.
The virus that stopped the world in its tracks!
There is much talk that the world can never be the same. The question is always asked when we can return to “normal?” Whatever that normal is even harder to define than what magic is, yet there are many that are trying to invoke the ideas of magic to help us achieve that return. Many of them are fighting over which definition of magic will be the best path to reach their goal.
Some people, including our President keep saying that the virus will just magically disappear by itself, showing their belief in the special power or tricks, while others, including many of our state governors are exhibiting a very special quality by listening to the science, following the data, and asking use the only tools we have at the moment of distancing, masking and washing.
When we get drugs and vaccines, it will come from the scientists who are working hard to discover, test, prove and repeat what they find. They know there is no shortcut. So many of us who do not want to wait, return to their faith in special powers to make all their problems and fears go away. I used to believe in that and made those wishes every morning but have learned that it just doesn’t work.
When I think of faith, the following definitions appear:
· Confidence or trust in a person or thing
· Belief that is not based on proof
· Belief in anything as a code of ethics, standard of merits, etc.
The present pandemic is the worst thing that has occurred to many of us in our lifetimes, and we have not been prepared by any resource how to deal with it. Who and what we believe is now a constant challenge for so many of us, confused by the fear, the suffering and the unknowns of our own safety and the if/when this will all end, and what the world will be like? It is no wonder that so many of us start to adopt magical thinking when they feel so powerless and there are leaders who are fighting over the correct path to follow.
For me, I do believe in magic. However, it is the magic of people’s special qualities, that science has provided, and not any special power, or trick or wishing any bad things will just disappear. Before science became prominent, we lived in what was called the dark ages, where there was no hope when the pandemics occurred. The more we know, which can be proved, tested and repeated, the better we all will be. That’s why I think of science as the fairy godmothers of our magical thinking. Anything else will find our wishing wells to be empty.
Mark Twain may have summed it all best when he said the following.
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
- Mark Twain
With all this being said, I want to share that part of my mission is to Inspire Magic. By this I mean, each person is to find, live and express their own special qualities. Each of us have our own magic. Live it and share it with the world.