"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: magical thinking

magical thinking . . .

DSC_5591_2Magical thinking may lead people to believe that their thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.[1] It is a type of causal reasoning or causal fallacy that looks for meaningful relationships of grouped phenomena (coincidence) between acts and events.

I don’t know about you but magical thinking permeates my life, at least lately. So many coincidental things have happened. It reminds me again of what people call “New Age” frame of mind: that there are Helpers in the Universe and all you have to do is to acknowledge you need help, ask for it even if it’s not out loud so anyone can hear you doing it, and somehow, help arrives in unseen ways.

From last Sunday to today, serendipitous things have happened too numerous to count: a repair was done on my laptop under a warranty I didn’t know I had; something of value that was thought to be lost suddenly reappeared. And greatly needed help surfaced in a situation that was permeated with bad energy and felt like a dead end.

I don’t know what magical thinking may have had to do with all of these situations, but it feels to me like there is a script somewhere that we can’t read ahead of time. In our American culture, it’s easy to think that if only we (fill in the blanks) that things will change for the better in time. Sometimes it takes a very long time. And sometimes, something happens that decimates all the things that you think you can’t solve or change.

That’s what has happened with my ankle injury in February. Suddenly, my priorities were a) how to get a good night’s sleep with a heavy cast on my leg; b)getting to the bathroom when I needed it; and c)making sure that I did everything for my ankle to heal, noticing how touching the caring ministrations of my husband, daughters and friends have been through it all.

Gratitude has a lot to do with the amount of magical dust that sprinkles itself into one’s life I think. Hardship is another factor too. I believe (and maybe this is my own brand of magical thinking,) that no matter how dark it appears to be before the dawn, that it’s important to apply oneself, to be honest with oneself and to do one’s best to get through hard times no matter how bad, sad or bereft one becomes at the seeming hopelessness of it all. Is that what is known as faith?

Help sometimes arrives years later than we wished for it. Timing is not up to us, God knows. In hindsight when looking back on my own life, events took their time coming together before the jigsaw puzzle pieces fell in place and then readjusted themselves.

Being in the moment is all we have. Most of what we berate ourselves about is small stuff in the grand scheme of things. If it has taken weeks of being bedridden to learn this lesson, it has certainly been worth it.

Thanks to all my helpers, seen and unseen!



“epilogue” . . .

The other day at the local library, I picked up a book by Anne Roiphe entitled “Epilogue.” Although I had not read her other books, her name rang a distant bell and so I checked it out. It turned out to be a memoir of her life after the sudden death of her husband of forty years.

I’ve read other memoirs about widowhood, notably Joan Didion’s book, “Magical Thinking” and Joyce Carol Oates whose title I can’t even remember because it seemed to be an excuse to publish another book when she had already remarried someone else by the time her widow memoir about her first husband was published.

That’s actually a lot of what these books are about: husbands, and marriage. In Anne Roiphe’s book, she misses her husband because he did everything for her: paid the taxes, did the cooking, earned a good living, provided homes in New York and in the Hamptons, hosted and cooked for their annual Seder, celebrated with their grown children and grandchildren. Lots of marriages are like that and that’s not what bothers me about Roiphe’s book. It’s her slightly unappreciative tone towards him (he didn’t leave me any life insurance and I can’t afford to keep the house in the Hamptons,) her daughters and especially sons-in-law that make her appear to be a miser emotionally at the same time that she is desperate to find a new man for companionship, or at least to provide her with what’s now missing.

I’m writing about a book which I laid down many times, picking it up to read more parts of it and finally finishing it last night because the unintentional take-home message for me was so loud and clear:

CHERISH, revel in and appreciate the life we still have with our partners now before one of us dies. Don’t look back with annoying regrets that you could have been kinder, nicer, more accepting, less critical. Hug each other now. Let the small stuff really go. Really. Stop worrying about what you can’t do anything about.

Treasure the present moment for all the days you have left, no matter whether it’s for just a short time or for a longer one than we might expect.

I guess that’s a great gift to receive from a book that was so annoying to read.

magical thinking . . .

Even though I grew up in America, I am Chinese-born and am infused with Taoist beliefs and a healthy regard for a Cosmos that I am guided by when I pay attention to what is going on around me. Years ago, I had a bout of viral meningitis which only went away when I took concoctions of Chinese medicinal herbs. I had read a book called “The Web That Has No Weaver” about Traditional Chinese Medicine and met its author, Ted Kaptchuk when he was setting up a department to study alternative medicines at Harvard Medical School.

Recently, my shiatsu practitioner suggested a Chinese herb called “Restore Integrity,” to bring me back to a former self, prior to undertaking a life of over-responsibility, both personally and professionally. The Read the rest of this entry »