Accidental Spellcasting

The kind of creative magic that I’ve been talking about comes very naturally to kids. Because another word for creativity is just this: playing.

Put two kids in a room together, they will start pretending. Have you ever listened to a four-year-old playing with trucks? (I am doing this every morning and night so it’s fresh on my mind). You’ll hear them repeat and reuse and recycle everything that’s been happening in their lives — they use that play time to work out conflicts, figure out what they don’t understand, be the bad guy, be the good guy.

Think back to how you played as a child. Can you remember doing this?

One of the big questions I ask every day is: why do we stop doing that? Why are we in a rush to grow out of it and give it up? What happens when we make space for it as adults? For working things out, actively and creatively?

It’s the reason I put together the Creative Magic Workout: When we practice, when we pretend, when we play, we embody an alternate reality. And just like that, we’ve cast an accidental spell.

It’s easy to see accidental spells in retrospect – not always as easy to see them as they’re happening.

For instance: I cast an accidental spell eight years ago.

I wrote a post on my old blog in November 2009 (which I am not going to link to because I am not quite ready to give attention to the parts of it I’m embarrassed about).

Here is what I wrote — I was speculating about an imaginary world in which I might have a business:

My business isn’t really a business. It’s a weird combination of artist haven / social service agency. It looks like a kindergarten classroom, if kindergarteners had an amp/mic/delay pedal station. And a waterless shower where they get to sing their favorite songs and shout imagined rants / visionary speeches.

I am selling dreams and rainbows and story time and a place to talk about your fears and practice becoming the badass you already are but don’t know it.

Yeah. Um… is that something I can sell? What would make me qualified to provide that? Can I just say I want to do that, and it’s cool? Will anyone buy it? Am I wacky enough to pull something like that off?

I would love to get to where I can embrace my own wacky, woo woo, stumbling dreams. That is what I want: to believe in myself enough to go there, to lead people in wacky, crazy workshops where they spend half the time thinking it’s total bullshit and then have a breakthrough. To have a space where I can work on my stuff and other people can too. Where they can show up and I’ll make them a cup of tea and we’ll sit on a big old rug in the middle of the room and I’ll pull out a book and read from it and we’ll put some music on and dance out the stress.

Holy shit y’all. Eight years ago all I could do was articulate how much I wished I had the guts to do this totally impossible thing, and now I AM DOING EXACTLY THAT IMPOSSIBLE THING. Like that is for real what I am pursuing, with zero irony.

That, my friends, is an accidental spell.

I was casting a spell without realizing it – planting seeds deep in my unconscious mind for the kind of space I wanted to create, the kind of work I wanted to do, the kind of world I wanted to live in.

I cast it, and then forgot about it. And then life or my inner voice or my unconscious mind started moving towards that vision like a magnet. And now, eight years later, through rain and shine, through trolls and money mud traps and confidence-scorching dragons, through child-birthing and job-juggling and mom-guilting and the neverending tetris of childcare: here I am, doing this thing that I feel like I’ve stumbled into, and yet eight years ago described with perfect clarity.

That’s my exercise for you today: write / draw / speak out loud the biggest, goofiest, boldest, most ridiculous version of your impossible dream. Spend two minutes imagining it and seeing yourself in it.

Then put it aside and don’t give it another thought. Do NOT try and pursue it for real.

(This part is key, I think – it’s got something to do with how resistant my four-year-old is to doing anything I tell him he has to do, and how motivated he is to do something I tell him not to do.)

So whatever you do, do NOT start taking steps towards making your dream a reality. Just let it sit there, okay?

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