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Saturday, 8 June 2013

It's Magic

There is something beautifully inspiring about a child saying: “It’s magic”. I heard those words from my cousin a couple of years ago. She was four at the time. She was giving me a hug goodbye and had her purse on her arm. When we withdrew from the hug, the purse strap was hooked on my arm. Amongst laughter from the adults, I asked her with playful incredulousness, “How did that happen?” She, happily and innocently replied with, “It’s magic!”

Her response elicited more laughter from myself and the adults, but it filled me with an incredible mixture of joy and sadness. Joy that there is still enough innocence in this world to allow a child to say, “it’s magic” when something that is unexplainable to them happens. But, it saddens me to realize that most of us once we reach a certain age, lose the ability to chock up the unexplainable to something so mundane and innocent as “magic”.

Now, many of those who truly know me know I believe in the things most people my age stopped believing in over a decade ago. Many more think I have a couple of loose screws or my head is not on tight enough, but you can go on and think what you like. As simple and innocent as that moment with my cousin was, it immediately made me think about my book series that I have been working on for over a year now and the themes that are and will be present within it. The most important of those to me, for the fleeting moment that I will retain the memory of those two little words, is innocence and how quickly and easily it is lost. It pains me to think that one day soon, I will no longer hear “it’s magic” come from her, or any of my “baby cousins”, as I call them, for that matter. That saddens me more than a lot of people realize. Most will just say, “Oh, she’s just growing up” or “All children believe in such things” and the worst one yet: “They’ll grow out of it”. Some actually want them to grow out of it. I don’t know how many times I’ve had people look at me as though I’ve lost my head when I start talking about Unicorns and Dragons as though they are real (or at least were once real).

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t quite understand why, when a child is small, we feel it is okay for them to believe in the things society tries to deny, but the older they get, the more and more we discourage them from having those beliefs and from having an imagination. A child’s imagination is a powerful thing. Every so often, I catch an episode of the Backyardigans (I also have one of the DVDs with a double episode and two regular length episodes) and I get a great deal of enjoyment and entertainment out of it. Maybe it’s because I can relate to those characters. I used to be a Backyardigan. I used to go on adventures in the “Magical Forest” when my aunt and uncle had their cottage about an hour northwest of Lindsey. The backyard was literally a forest, and the name I affectionately gave it was taken from a much beloved Barney movie entitled Barney’s Magical Musical Adventure in which the kids and Barney went on an adventure through the Magical Forest to help a King in his castle. They even met an Elf along the way. I still find myself wishing I still had that movie to watch for old time’s sake. I still call that forest, “The Magical Forest” because that is what it was and always will be to me. There is a line in the theme song to the Backyardigans that I absolutely love: “We’ve got the whole wide world in our yard to explore”. I just don’t understand why we think it’s okay for a child to go off on backyard adventures, but the older they get the more we discourage it. I have longed for years to be able to go back to my aunt and uncle’s cottage just to go on an adventure in the “Magical Forest” but I have not been able to because they sold the cottage over a decade ago. I wish to be a Backyardigan again.

Discouraging a child’s imagination and belief in what most consider impossible, I believe, is the wrong thing to do. They believe anything and everything is possible. How do I know? I was a kid once, and I believed that the city of Toronto could be covered by an avalanche, I believed that humans could have talking pets named Shadow, Chance and Sassy, and that we could co-exist with a little Long-neck dinosaur named Littlefoot. The times now have proven that humans do not co-exist with little Long-neck dinosaurs named Littlefoot, and our pets do not speak to us with human voices, but that was something I learned. What about the child who believes in Faëries and Dragons and the Wonderful Land of Oz? What of the tales of Mermaids and Trolls and a little Hobbit who saved his world from a Dark Lord? Oh, I can hear many of you all now: “They’re just stories! Take it with a grain of salt! They’re made up!” Are they? Can they be proven? Can they be disproven? In many, many, many cases, the answer to both of those questions is no. How can you discredit something that has never been disproven? And just because it has not been proven, does not mean it’s not real. Yes, I believe in Faëries and Elves and Unicorns. I believe that they once existed... if they hadn’t have, where do the stories come from? Why do the young children of every generation believe in them? Are they just made up in their big, wide imaginations? Perhaps their interpretation of them is, but I do not believe what they believe is made up. It has to come from somewhere; all belief must come from somewhere.

Maybe I am just someone whose imagination never truly left them. Or maybe I’m still a child at heart. Maybe I’m crazy... Or maybe I’m just someone who refused to stop believing when the rest of the world told me I should. Personally, I am glad I didn’t listen to all those loud voices telling me to stop believing in Faëries and Unicorns and Elves. Believing in those things... well, it makes me happy. It is the reason I started writing my book series in the first place, with a little help from a friend and a conversation he had with his mother, who has also never stopped believing. I think, everyone should take a moment and take a look at the world through the eyes of a four year old. The world is going to seem a whole hell of a lot bigger – and maybe a little bit more scary – but the sight of a Monarch Butterfly landing on a tulip in the springtime would bring the biggest smile to our faces, and joining our friends in the park to go off on a pirate adventure or to climb to the top of a mountain to slay a Dragon, only to get to the top of that mountain and realize the Dragon was just lonely and needed a friend... those things would give us the most joy. They’re simple, easy and the most fun.

Take a look at the world through the eyes of a child and you will see things you never imagined, feel things you have never felt, hear sounds you never thought you’d hear. Maybe you will hear the singing voice of an Elf, or the screech of a Gryffin, or maybe the soft melodic neigh of a Unicorn in the distance. Maybe you will see a beautiful ship with big white sails and an open sea at your doorstep. Maybe you will feel the warm summer sun on a cold winter’s day, maybe you will feel sand beneath your feet though you are walking on pavement in a pair of old sneakers. Hopefully, somewhere between landing your ship on a desert island to search for treasure and hearing that Unicorn in the distance you will discover something you never would have otherwise. That the world is full of magic and it’s all right there in front of you; yours for the taking. All you have to do is reach out and grab it and hold it in your heart. Once you do that, all the things you did not deem possible, suddenly are so. And it’s all through the eyes and imagination of a child. The eyes of a child are something truly remarkable and the imagination is where you find the magic. Go out and find some today and you never know where it will take you.