My nephew, who was maybe five or six at the time, was amazed and stunned by my ability to put a flaming match into my mouth. It’s not nearly as dangerous as it sounds because the fire won’t burn in a place that fills up with carbon dioxide nearly instantly. My nephew, however, had another explanation. Without missing a beat he explained to us all that someone had come into the house that night and exchanged the real matches for special matches that would not burn Uncle Mike’s mouth.
To my nephew, the event of a flaming match being put into someone’s mouth without harm needed to explained. Matches burned people. They were dangerous, his mother and father had always told him so and this meant it was true. Fire was dangerous. So if fire was dangerous then this must not be real fire. My sister was not amused by the idea of teaching her son that fire wasn’t akin to Plutonium 666 because like all mothers she wanted her children to live long enough to kill themselves by dying slowly of old age.
But back to the mind of someone who is trying to make sense of something that doesn’t. The Special Matches Theory had basis in fact only if real matches would have indeed caused burns in all cases. Given this is true, and it isn’t, then the Special Matches Theory is valid, which it isn’t. But if you don’t know that carbon dioxide will kill a fire faster than it can burn then you would have to believe in the Special Matches Theory.
This goes on. If you believe in the Special Matches Theory then you have to have some event which occurred that brought the Special Matches in place of the regular, Uncle Mike- writhing- on- the- floor- in- agony- from- a- burned- mouth- matches. There were “people” who had brought the Special Matches in. This had to be true because the Special Matches could not have merely appeared out of nowhere, could they?
So what are we to do with this?
Somewhere along the way, my nephew had been taught that people caused things to happen and we did not always know who these people were. Well and good. We really don’t know who keeps the water running and the electricity on, and I would wager than if you had a well-educated adult try to explain the infrastructure needed to provide running water and continuous electrical power it might sound a lot like Special Matches Theorem. Hell, I’ve worked in the field and I must admit I don’t understand it all sometimes.
We live in a world of mysticism where we accept the idea that things work, more or less, the way they do because someone out there does something that causes it to be so. Many years ago a friend of mine bought a brand new truck. The first week he had it the damn thing would not crank. They towed it back to the dealership, ran extensive tests on it, replaced half the electrical parts on it and in the end, gave my friend a new truck to replace the one that even the very best of their engineers couldn’t resurrect. Look at what you’re doing right now; can you explain how my story got to the screen in front of you?
We might smile and nod at children who come up with outlandish ideas as to where things come from but the simple truth is that we, as adults, cannot explain much of the world we live in, and that’s just the human made stuff. There are green Arrowleaf Vines that I have cut back, year after year after year, and each year the same vines will spring forth in defiance of my efforts and will grow again. Why? What source of energy keeps these things alive when I cut them back to the ground each time there is a foot of vine? Are there people who come in and replace the cut vines with Special Vines? Yes, yes, please, do not tell me the roots are still alive, clearly that is so, but why are they still alive after so much little to show for their efforts?
So here you are now, with visions of matches and green arrowleaf vines and water pipes and a truck, a white truck, get it into your mind the truck was white, and it was a Ford, and we can see the white truck parked under some powerlines and the whole concept that as children we think there are “people” who make things happen suddenly turns into the realization that when we are adults, yes us, we think the very same thing. We rent our magic out to outside forces. That’s not a terrible thing, mind you, unless we get to the place in time when we’re renting out all our magic to “people” and there is no room in our lives for that which we create on our own.
There are people who write books, make movies, paint pictures, take amazing photographs, sing songs, play music, and all manner of things we view as wondrous. I remember when I began to write there was this feeling of trespass. I was venturing into other people’s territory. I was writing. My shelves were filled with books that were written by other people and here I was venturing out into the unknown and unknowable without the first damn clue as to what I was doing.
You can do this too.
As children we don’t think to control what comes into our minds. We see nothing as too silly or too playful or too wild. Children do not constrain joy with the realization it won’t last forever. Their minds eat everything that is on their plates and they beg for more. We adults put our minds on diets and hope we can get rid of some of the excess before it drives us mad.
Somewhere out there are some arrowleaf vines growing under some powerlines and not even Special Matches can burn them out forever. You don’t have to know where all the magic comes from, or where it’s going, no. Just know where your own magic lives and feed it. It’s waiting for you to come outside and play, right now.