Last week, the most perfect, synchronistically timed message toppled into my inbox from one of my heroine-mentors-guidewithatorch, Danielle Laporte: Choose Magic over the Mundane.
When I first read it, I thought, this is the mantra of my entire life.
I am a type four in the enneagram, and my four-ness holds deep disdain of mundanity and suburban life. This quality has been a strong part of me for a long time, taking shape as both a burning desire for a different way of life than what the mainstream offers, and a desperate fear of being trapped in a soccer-mom-mini-van-bleached-highlights existence.
(Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the fact that our holy desires and our worst fears are so inextricably linked? And both buried so deeply within us that all too often we forget their true names, their real faces?)
But then I read it again, got myself caught up in the choosing part. That’s when I realized that this wasn’t only my mantra, but the journey, of my life. In some secret part of my heart, this was the prayer I’d whimpered while in the dark tunnels of depression, the mumble-murmur of drunken nights with yet again the wrong guy, the rope I clung to while barreling my way through graduate school with two jobs yet not enough money to buy cat food or gas.
I guess that’s what makes it truly a mantra, right? A real mantra is more than pretty words we recite at the fancy altar in the corner of the bedroom, or at the end of yoga class. A real mantra is with us when things get gritty and grace is hard to find.
As a little girl, I spent my childhood in the throes of a vibrant imagination, creating extensive “pretend games” that drew in the other girls on the playground and overcoming their cruel cliqueish girlgames and disdain for my faux-LA Gear shoes (remember those?). They were seduced by the beauty of fantastical worlds and the enchantment of stories you could live and breathe and be the heroine of.
When we played in these worlds using the full, bright power of our imaginations, no one ever lost, or was left out, or was any less beautiful or special than anyone else.
But then I walked away from the magic and the stories, as so many of us do.
I lost the ability to completely immerse myself in epic tales in my head, full of princes and trees with secret doors and gangs of ninjas with hearts of gold. It probably was a gradual decline, but I remember most sharply the day my best friend told me that people thought I was weird because they saw me walking down the street talking to myself.
I funneled my creative impulses into journalism instead, which seemed more acceptable but radical at the same time. Safe. You could make a career of it. You could point to things in the world that other people could see.
Safe? you might be thinking. Journalists die on assignment all the time in places like Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico.
Radical? you might also be thinking. And you’d be right to wonder—because what’s more radical and culture-shifting than the mysterious gems that come from a creative process that mines the depths of the subconscious (which could be the collective, personal, akashic records, gut-cunt-womb, all of the above, or none of these).
But I was young then, and afraid of being alone. Outcast. Crazy. Edge-walker.
Until, as one of my favorite writers Anais Nin so famously said, the pain of being a bud was greater than the risk it takes to bloom. That happened sometime in my 20s, and it wasn’t always as pretty as a rosebud, soft petal upon soft petal folded in upon itself.
Sometimes it looked more like the kind of car accident you can’t look away from, metal crushing metal, steam rising from the rubble.
When it finally came time for me to bloom, I chose to reclaim my magic. To learn and trust my intuition. To play in enchanted worlds with other people who also valued what isn’t so easily seen or bought. To develop those gems that lie deep inside of my imagination and heart rather than spend as much time on what’s “practical” or “dependable.”
But that doesn’t mean that the Muse simply welcomed me back, the betraying adultress, with open arms. In my own mind, a many-headed hydra guarded the door to my imagination and authentic voice, wearing the faces of those who’d said I was too much (too weird too smart too quiet…), and those who’d said I was not enough, and those who’d burned women at the stake for stepping out of line.
I had to prove myself to the parts of myself that weren’t willing to give up all we’d garnered by playing it safe. Like the paupered princess from one of my old stories—picking and sorting grains of sand, traversing swamps and seas, and battling the crows with their incessant screeches: you’re not good enough, you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, you’re too old, you’re too young, you’re too lazy and undisciplined, you’re not actually talented, at least not enough, not enough, not enough, not enough…
Cruel girlgames of my own mind.
But I did it anyway. I did the work of choosing magic over the mundane. I reclaimed my power to choose, to author my own life. I hurled a giant white-hot fireball directly at that dragon that haunts the minds and hearts of every woman who was ever a little girl that was told to be quiet, to be normal, to be pretty but not too pretty, to do your homework, don’t make waves, don’t stand out, don’t fail, don’t trespass, don’t burn.
When we do deep magic like this, it’s never only something we do for ourselves. We do it for us all. Every step you make in reclaiming yourself, your power, your own voice is a torch in the dark for another woman who is further back along the path.
I chose to reclaim my magic, and I still continue to choose magic over the mundane every day.
What do you do to choose magic in your own life? What is your mantra for the journey?
A Tough Love Letter to those Who Forget They are Magic.
Author: Rebecca Rose Sang
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Anemone Jones/Flickr