Focus

“Walk!” my beloved 2nd year teacher yelled down the walkway as I ran past the railings to the stairs down to recess. My schooling was very mindful to instruct me what to do as an action, not a negation. This was in stark contrast to the litany of forbidden things from home and church, highlighting and drawing attention to the wrong instead of the right. My teacher unschooled the toddler ‘No’ out of me.

“Radishes grow fast” my researcher suggested for my limited time internship. I had results to show, and earned the scholarship.

“But, what do you like? How will you know it when you see it?” Angela asked, road tripping from yet another festival. Single, and determined to not repeat mistakes, I had been listing off what was unacceptable. We’d both been part of a community that did an open gift exchange where people published their gift lists freely and openly but in several ranks of investment, from ‘Stocking Stuffers’ to ‘In My Dreams’. I’d seen people get their dreams by happenstance, if you will, after publishing the dreams for themselves and their community to see. I made the list of my desires, the positive traits that would delight me. Several times it helped me see who I wanted when I could have been distracted by life and missed them.

“Hold your question foremost in your mind and meditate on it.” was the start of the divination session, the reader working over their tools. It was not important to them that they know the question. Did I know what I wanted to know?

“Get them in the habit of saying yes.” the sales seminar suggested. Is my name this? Yes. Do I live here? Yes. Is this what I want? Yes. Am I ready to buy now? … Yes.

“The word ‘No’ is the death of the scene” was one of the early rules of theater I learned, forbidden in improv. “No is an alarm. No is a threat. No is the end of play and the start of panic.”

“China flats, china flats, china flats, no fish!” the lecturer explained about the start of a magical trick of the trade. The story can be looked up online, but it was a clever hack of observation and attraction to use something they were finding everywhere, fish, for what they couldn’t find, shoes. This was the same lecture that suggested training your subconscious to believe in yourself by declaring intent on things you were going to do anyhow. “I will take a drink of this water”, and then drink.

“You only have so much focus.” I can paraphrase a friend as explaining “If I draw a circle on the ground, is it easier to ask you to memorize everything in the circle or everything not in the circle?”

Magic is around us every day. We do it all the time. It doesn’t even take a sufficiently advanced technology to make it impossible to tell science from magic. There may be parts of magic that are not scientific, but science is mad, awesome, juicy, rich magic. One of the first stories of magic I was told were norse epics about people knowing the true names of things and using that to cross oceans on sledges of ice, and other feats of strength of knowledge and will. The power of language, to ourselves and to each other, is potent. There are many things in the power of language to be mindful of, such as dog whistles, shibboleth, code switching, and other ways to layer, lie, entendre, or deceive other people. But the power I am most careful with is what I tell myself.

I will share the magic in my life.

I will show my work.

I will write here.

So mote it be.

About the Author

Perlandria has flourished where she was planted, although her family is from many places most of them far away. Her deep roots start in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's fond of visiting many gardens, and learning about their cultural context. A favorite place to visit is a kind of cross denominational seed swap that happens every year in February where she has served the greater community for over 15 years. In her spiritual garden you'll find tracts devoted to Gerth, Oxun, Chango, and Freyr. Early influences were christian mystery cults, shinto, heathenry, buddhism, and hinduism. As an adult, Perlandria chose afro-american faiths for practice. As an atheist, this has caused some confusion about her regular day to day experiences and beliefs.

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