Whether being driven to the Jitney Jungle with Mom or into the presence of God with Dad, I learned from a young age what words could do. My mother was a music major, and when she sang “Ave Maria” in the car, she opened up their magic. My father was a self-made preacher man and when he prophesied in our living room, he unhinged their power.
And while some people prefer the power, I prefer the magic of words. And believe me, there’s a world of difference.
Magic is revealed. Power is wielded. One shows itself to you. The other strips you bare — or does its best. Enlighten. Or ensnare. That’s what words can do.
And lately, against my better health and judgement, I’ve been caught up in the contagious power of words. In the feverish state of negativity running rampant right now. I’ve grown flush with fear and anxiety. Words have wielded their weight on me, and I’ve wielded out weighty ones of my own. And my recent blogs have been a result of that fever. And I’m sorry about that.
That’s not usually who I am. I’m generally an eternal optimist — an alchemist who tries to turn iron into gold. To dig around in the dark till I find the dawn. But social and news media’s words of contagious power got me.
Thank heavens a good friend recognized my symptoms, cautioned me against getting caught up, and prescribed the appropriate cure: Books.
In my cul-de-sac cult days, when things went all catawampus, I read books to escape. Words with magic to counteract the words of power being catapulted at me. Books sheltered and shielded me. They took me away from my reality.
Emily Dickinson, who self-cloistered for nearly her entire adult life, still enjoyed getting away from the four walls that both protected and penned her in. By reading.
She claimed “there is no frigate like a book/ to take us lands away,” and I agree. And what better thing to do while we’re self-cloistering (so much more poetic than “social distancing”) inside walls that protect and pen us in, than set sail on the pages of a book?
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, has been my cure. It’s helped me rediscover the sweet magic of words again, which is what I desperately needed. But it’s also helped me remember the sweet magic of this universe and my part in it.
Gilbert’s words are positive and playful and they encourage us all to find the “strange jewels” planted in our souls by the universe. Some of us will rise to the challenge of unearthing those gems, she says, and some of us are content to sit back and let them simmer unseen.
These last few weeks, sitting at home on my couch, its been easy to turn slack and cynical and to leave the magic simmering somewhere. But her words are nudging me back toward action and light.
Big Magic’s subtitle is Creative Living Beyond Fear — and that’s exactly what I need right now — a way to move beyond fear and into a positive creative state. To go on my spiritual scavenger hunt to find the words truest to me. Words of love and inspiration and persistence.
Because words are my hidden jewels. My magic. I love to twirl them like pinwheels till they flicker and flash. To sharpen and shape them into glittering strings of paper dolls prose. To fling them like stardust into the nebula of my brain and see what riches take flight.
I need to remember to play with them again. Not wallow in them. To relish in their magic, not fall beneath their power.
And if you feel the same way, I highly recommend you giving Gilbert’s Big Magic a read.
She’ll help you find and reclaim your birthright.