Pigeon flying in the skyWhen did most of us stop believing in magic? Was it the same time we stopped discovering castles and dolphins in the clouds? Did we come to the conclusion on our own, or was it shouted by a spiteful person, or perhaps worse, whispered in our ear by a well-meaning one? At least when someone shouts at us, we have a natural resistance to the message, but when someone we trust tells us, then it must be accurate, right? Never-mind that the person might only relay a message from a long line of people who never stopped to question its validity.

Does magic exist? And if it does, why do so many doubt it? I have my suspicions. Somewhere along the line we were led to believe something is only magical if it happens instantaneously, like a magician releasing a dove from a sleeve or making a 747 disappear on a tarmac in front of a crowd and television cameras. But then again, those events aren’t magic at all, only illusions, or deception, depending how you view it.

I believe magic happens everyday, only we don’t recognize it because it’s often a slow churn. True magic can take time, something a lot of us don’t perceive we have. But we do have time. What we’re lacking, is patience. So when we toss a wish or prayer into the world the same way we arc a coin into a fountain, we lose hope when nothing happens in the next second, or hour, or day. Then, at some point in the future when our request is granted, we don’t even remember making it.

So how does one perform magic? Simple. Hold whatever you want in your imagination, see it fully formed, in detail, then ask for it. After that, go about your business. Whatever you do, keep moving forward. What you visualized and asked for will most likely show up. It just may take some time.

You may ask, if this is so simple, why doesn’t everyone do it all the time? Good question. I have a few answers:

1) Some people don’t believe it works, so they never try. Or if they do, it’s a half-hearted attempt. Then, when nothing happens quickly… well, we already covered that. Not believing in everyday magic is valid. Individuals must navigate their own lives with the tools that make them comfortable. For me, I’ll explore any tool in this world that intrigues me, and give it a decent shot before I declare it invalid. In other words, I’ll experiment to learn whether something works for me, versus accepting what someone else tells me will or won’t.

2) Even those of us who do believe, tend to forget. I do this all the time. Life gets in the way. Deadlines, distractions, and chaos prevent us from pausing to consider what we really want. Good luck holding something firmly in your mind if you don’t know what that thing is. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had to train myself to recognize the symptom of being lost in chaos, which for me, feels as if a circus elephant is balancing on my chest. When that happens, I draw in a deep breath and spend a few moments thinking about what I want to occur in my life. Afterward, I feel centered and the rest of the day falls into place.

3) We limit ourselves. Some of us may believe in magic, and we attempt it on a semi-regular basis, but we don’t access the full power of it. Instead of targeting the highest summit, we settle for a mediocre plateau, the same place countless others are milling about. I’m guilty of this one as well, but I’ve made huge strides over the last several years. If you’re going to conjure magic, think big!

Don’t take my word for it. Experiment for yourself. But don’t be surprised when the magic shows. And sometimes it does happen instantaneously or darn close to it. I learned this nearly three years ago at Topsail Island. My wife and I often rent oceanfront houses at various North Carolina beaches for a week each summer and this was our first time at Topsail. This particular year we went with her parents and sister’s family.

One of my favorite activities at the beach is to search for shark teeth. Let others have the shells. I like those thousands-upon-thousands-if-not-million-year-old fossils that hide in plain sight. It’s much easier to spot the shark tooth hunters than the actual teeth. Unlike the shell seekers who comb the beach in constant movement, shark tooth enthusiasts step up to a stretch of broken shells at the shoreline or in the shallow surf and often move slower, if at all. Small shark teeth are difficult to spot if you’re moving. Even scanning quickly over the shell fragments while standing still risks missing them. Instead, you must focus on one area, then look for the general shape of a triangle. Only then will one or several leap at you—figuratively, of course. I liken it to the magic eye puzzles that were the craze years ago. You had to stare at them for a few moments while letting your focus go soft or trying to look through it. Only then could you see the hidden image within. Spotting shark teeth is similar.

During the week at Topsail, I held two things in my mind: not only to find large quantities of the pointy teeth, but also to discover some of decent size. I had the quantity element down; near the end of the stay I’d found nearly two hundred. I’d hit the size goal also, finding several the size of a nickel, which until that point, were the biggest I’d ever found. I was happy. But it took someone else to show me I wasn’t thinking big enough.

On the last full day before we left, my brother-in-law, Dan, asked how I had found so many shark teeth. I showed him and he joined the hunt. Later that day, I slipped into the house to cool off, and when I returned, the family was excited, all saying Dan had something to show me. I walked over, and from his short’s pocket, Dan pulled the largest shark tooth I’d ever seen that wasn’t inside a glass case. Longer than a silver dollar was wide, the tooth was huge. I’d been searching for large ones, but I hadn’t let myself imagine I could find a tooth so big.

I congratulated Dan, then hustled off toward the surf. When my wife asked what I was doing, I announced, “Going to find a shark tooth just like that one!” As I walked calf deep in the surf along the shoreline, my eyes followed the surging water. I held the image of that same size shark tooth in my mind, just like the one Dan had found.

Shells tumbled within the backwash while minnows scattered around my feet. Within fifteen minutes, a dark object caught my eye in the ebb. It started to slide backward as I lunged and clamped a hand over it. Pulling my hand out of the water, I turned my closed fist skyward and flung open my fingers. In my palm sat a hefty shark tooth nearly identical to the one Dan had showed me. All week I had searched and never seen one that size. Then, within fifteen minutes of seeing what was possible and holding it in my mind, I’d pulled a huge one from the surf. Could there simply be an abundance of monster shark teeth tumbling in the waves at Topsail? Perhaps. But I’d talked to fellow shark tooth hunters that week and not a single one had mentioned finding a tooth bigger than a nickel. Shark teeth hunters will tell you about a find like that.

I left that Topsail Island trip wondering about the everyday magic I’d been using to bring objects, people, and events into my life. Where else had I not been thinking big enough? Turns out there were numerous areas, including where I envisioned myself being five years from that point. But after that day I changed my thinking. If I was going to err, I would not do it on the side of thinking too small. What about you? How do you draw everyday magic into your life? And where should you think bigger?

P.S. In case you are dubious:

Shark tooth found at Topsail beach, larger than a silver dollar

P.P.S In case you are dubious in Florida:

Go see my brother-in-law and ask him. www.drcasel.com

He’s a dentist in Jupiter, Florida. I’m almost totally pretty certain it’s surely against the law for dentists to provide false information regarding teeth.

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