Wednesday, April 4, 2012


A few months ago I heard a word I just fell in love with at first hearing – phenomenology – meaning to take something, no matter how fantastic, how outrageous, how out of the norm, as the God’s honest truth. I remember the face of the man who proposed this concept of phenomenology – he gazed out at the audience expecting to see an ocean of raised eyebrows, and skeptical frowns. And, I imagine he saw them, but not from me. No, from me, he got a big old grin, a head wag that practically made my noggin fall off, and a silent hug of gratitude for putting into words what I had always felt.
I don’t know why I have always believed in the impossible, but I have. Pots of gold at the end of the rainbow – of course, unicorns – why not, magical wish granting lamps – there’s one right next store, isn’t there?? Long before I read that Native Americans thought there was a spirit in all things, I talked to trees, flowers, and cars. I saw “colors” around people for ages before I heard the word “aura”. That people could see the future by looking at your hands, a pack of cards, or gazing at a crystal ball, has always seemed perfectly logical to me – I mean, why not????
A hundred years ago, if someone said there was a little machine that could send and receive messages you could hear, as well as read, and that this same device could also play music, and take a photograph – wouldn’t that have seemed unreal? Or that there existed something in outer space that could tell you where the closest place to go to the bathroom or find something to eat here on earth – how could that really be? A platypus, on paper, doesn’t sound like it could possibly be anything more than a figment of someone’s highly active imagination, but there, in the land that also hosts the kangaroo, and the kiwi, they are real as can be.
We know that towering dinosaurs once existed, so why couldn’t there have been the giant people that inhabit some of the folktales I read and tell? Science tells us that animals communicate with each other, so maybe there was a time when – because we were more part of nature, rather than a destroyer of it – that we could understand, and speak with dogs, cows, cats and horses. To paraphrase Frank Church in his famous “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter – things aren’t Unreal just because we don’t see them. I mean, look at air – although with pollution, it actually is getting easier to see! And, I believe the Little Prince was right when he said, “What’s essential is invisible to the eye.”
Maybe it’s just me, but living with a sense of “Why not?” as opposed to “It can’t possibly be!” is a lot more fun! It allows for awe, for surprises, for a life bigger, wilder, more colorful and bold, than the average, everyday – “if I can’t touch, taste, smell or feel it, it’s total fiction!” kind of life. Sometimes, the places, people, and events in the tales I tell seem more real to me than the things I see in my day to day comings and goings. And it’s those stories that inspire me to find in my everyday life - while I’m doing the dishes, or taking out the garbage, or waiting to get my taxes done (that’s where I am now!) - the magic, the adventure, the courage, and the wisdom that is embedded in the ancient folktales I love so very much.

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