Magic is where you find it, in the garden, on the water, or in a book.
1.) Decide how to string the colours of magic into your life story.
Things happen to us. These are events—they are not yet a story. For example, a 24-year-old woman gets pregnant in rural Alberta in the 1940s. The child’s father is unwilling or unable to marry the young woman. At this time and in this place, people are highly judgmental. Women who get pregnant without a marriage-minded partner have two choices: either they look for an illegal abortion or they go to a church-run home in a far town where they have the baby and give it up for adoption. The pregnant woman, whose country school only went up to Grade 8, decides she is going to have the child and bring it up on her own. But her family is highly conservative. How much help can she expect from them? Probably none.
Thirty years ago, a prominent writer was kind enough to give advice to a young writer, me. What I took away from the evening was this man’s profound bitterness at the lack of recognition he’d received. He was good pals with all the big-name writers in Canada—called them by nicknames and had dinners with them—but he hadn’t achieved their sales or success. In talking with me, he slid in barbs at every single writing icon in the country. I laughed, but I was blinking too, in surprise that he would say such things. Who needs an enemy with a friend like that?
A few years before this, at age 24, I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder with a genetic component. This challenge meant I dealt with a lot of on-going pain—and still do.
What is it to be lucky? A victim? Has life really not been fair? What kind of narrative, what story do we construct from the events that happen to us? It’s important to understand the story we tell ourselves at night becomes, to some extent, a choice. Once upon a time is a great start. But don’t leave out the good parts. Lots of small magics happen in everyone’s life; the bright beads of a child saying I love you, the colours of an orchid blooming on a windowsill, family laughing together over a shared meal. String the story-of-your-life together into a necklace with these bright stones as well as the noir we’re all given.