Friday, January 15, 2010

the magic

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When I was a kid, I imagined that adults had magical powers or at any rate possessed secrets that kids were not told. Since their powers and secrets were not revealed, I was left to imagine what they might be: Maybe they could fly, maybe they could become invisible, maybe they could ... who knew what?

I deduced that they had such magical powers or secrets from the fact that adults were capable of weird stuff like making me eat Brussels sprouts or go to bed before nine o'clock, the time when all the best radio shows -- the ones that could scare you to death -- came on.

Where did they get these powers from and how many other bits of magic might there be? It was a matter of speculation but I could tell I was not alone wondering about it because when I was with other kids, they too would say with a kind of hopeful reverence, "When I grow up...." I was six or seven at the time.

At 35, I took a two-and-a-half-day battery of tests to determine, more or less, what I wanted to be when I grew up. The psychological testing targeted not just what I wanted to be, what I dreamed of, but also what I was capable of. At the end of the two and a half days, there was a sit-down discussion with a psychologist who gave a one-on-one analysis of the results. The only thing I really remember about that interview was that he all but offered me a job working in his field.

But beyond the almost-job-offer, the most interesting thing about those tests was this: They didn't tell me anything that was a surprise. I didn't seem to have the power to fly or disappear. No extraordinary powers popped up and no secrets were revealed. The tests provided nothing magical ... they just took all the information I already had lying around the house and put it in one place, collated and filed.

I'm not sure if I was more disappointed or delighted that there was no unusual revelation or outcome. On the one hand, there was the relief-inducing recognition that it was "just me," but on the other, there was the gnawing habit of wondering, "is that all there is ... when, oh when, will the stars align so that I too can fly or disappear?!"

Perhaps that testing was just another version of the profound and sometimes magical world of spiritual adventure -- another nudge, another wake-up call.

I don't know.

I do know that I no longer have to eat Brussels sprouts or go to bed before nine (much as I might long to).

How's that for magic?
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