A Modern Mystic

Musings on life, work and contemporary spirituality

Turn magical thinking into symbolic sight

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My magical friend Clare

My magical friend Clare

Is there somebody in your life or in your own head who constantly tells you to be realistic?

“Get real! Don’t be such a dreamer!” Or how about my father’s favorite saying during my childhood: “Get off your high horse!”

That was music to the ears of my Magical Child. Whenever I got the message that I was unrealistic in my expectations, too idealistic or just weirdly creative, I took my dreams inside and spun fantastic scenarios of the life I would lead when I became an adult, the sovereign of my own material realm. I’m grateful that my childhood magical thinking generated friendly companionship when I was lonely, spiritual guidance when I was lost and a creative life plan that I am just now beginning to understand and implement. To put it another way, no matter what went on during my upbringing, I never stopped meditating on my own happiness.

Yet we all eventually outgrow adaptive or self-soothing childhood day dreams. We arrive one day at a decision point. Do I take this job or that one? Do I stay home with my child or go to work? Do I marry or stay single? Many of us decide, then and there, to throw away the dreams, do the right thing, GET REALISTIC!

Now the good news. After years of laboratory testing, I have reached my findings on how to achieve lasting happiness. My studies show that becoming more realistic is not the way to go.

Please don’t quit your day job or stop flossing your teeth regularly. But neither should you throw out the inner dreamer just because the reality-Nazi in your head screams more loudly.

I recommend transforming your childhood magical thinking into adult symbolic thinking. There are several advantages to this strategy.

First, your inner child is more in touch with what really makes you happy. She is also gentle, innocent and motivated by love. She is neither expecting to get hurt nor bent on hurting others. Imagine a world — I often do — where EVERYONE is doing what makes them happy. I dare say that is a shang-ri-la worth visualizing!

When we access symbolic thinking we shift into the realm of potential. We open new possibilities for ourselves and we inspire others with our newfound vision. Often, a paradigm shift, alone, is enough to resolve our issues.

Take my mole “problem,” which has generated a fair amount of discussion on Facebook. Some have expressed squeamishness. Others have inquired about the causes of the problem and compared my situation to the state of their own lawn. (The funny part is that I don’t even have a yard.) Still others want to know what can be done about them, you know, the moles. All these approaches, quite normal and rational, belong in the realm of reality.

Funny that, aside from the question of how to properly dispose of a dead rodent, I bypassed reality and ran straight for the symbolic. My Magical Child loves the creepy factor of stepping on dead rodents in the middle of the night. That always gets a squeal and a giggle. She laughs at the irony that the former owner of the house is a Ms. Moles. She’s enthralled by the fact that there have been five moles in five straight days. She is inquisitive; who knew that moles came in so many different sizes, shapes, and nose lengths? And she breath-takingly awaits future mole sightings, especially in the bedroom.

My grown up magical child, the one who provides my faculty of symbolic insight, knows that I have been working with facing my fears: resistance to making a living for myself (bringing home tasty rodents for my family); fears of digging down deep to get the bottom of my current life challenges; procrastinating job “hunting” and researching (digging into) my field. And, wouldn’t you know it, there is my life-long phobia of rodents. HAH! Symbolic sight helps me laugh at myself. It’s pretty funny to find myself projecting my fear of earning a living onto my nine pound brown tabby!

A friend replied after reading my last post, “I wish I had your positive attitude.” Well, I attribute my attitude simply to the stubborn habit, born long ago, of looking for the symbolic meaning first.

Sigh. I still have to pick up the dead mole at the foot of the bed, but I’m so grateful for the new insight dragged in with it.

Author: Carrie Ure

Carrie Ure is a teacher, editor and happiness coach based in Portland, Oregon.

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