Monday, September 23, 2013

REAL MAGIC...

Halloween is my favorite holiday. 

Free of dastardly Dark Age vibes, Halloween has become the day that everyone is encouraged to think magically. For those of us who are creative on a daily basis, it's wonderful to have everyone join in with such enthusiasm.

People seem to think that young children love and naturally embrace the fantasy and shape shifting that is part of Halloween. I think they find it confusing and anxiety producing. After all, on all other days, learning the rules is paramount. It has been my experience that beginners need consistency and structure above all. Actually, the rules set them free.

Many people are also under the impression that children have boundless ideas about fantasy and can imagine anything, but really they have very narrow experience to draw from. Well, of course, there is Disney, but those ideas are already imagined... 

I think that Halloween provides a unique opportunity to show our beginners just how real magic works. How visualization + skills can lead to realization. In that spirit, I offered to make my beginners masks. We had just made collage self-portraits and I wanted them to have masks to put over them for Halloween. As a way of transitioning from the real them we had just created, to the alternate them that everyone was expecting.

First, I warned them that I would be asking what they would like to be, so they could think about it. It could be anything, a thunderstorm or a butterfly or an astronaut, anything. Then, we sat together and they each committed to something. Not easy when anything is on the table! So, when one beginner said she would like to be a kitten, I said, "OK! a kitten it is!"  She looked skeptical. I began to create individual kits so that my beginners could be a part of the making. I spent hours, in front of the TV at home, making 16 kits and paper clipping them together. And here's why...

I wanted to teach a very important idea. We talk a lot about encouraging creative thinking in our beginners. We recognized that being able to visualize and then realize something, whether it is ourselves or world peace or a space ship, is an important thing. The best way to teach is to model. By making masks, I had an opportunity to show how real magic gets done. 

When I was a beginner, I was lucky enough to have creative, problem solving and skilled parents, who constantly modeled the magic. 

For example: One summer evening I told my father that the mayonnaise jar I was using to catch fire flies was not good enough. The next morning we went to his workshop. He hammered and cut and soldered copper screen and sheet metal, until a beautiful little cage appeared. It was a shiny copper cylinder with a conical top. It had a little door with a latch and a loop on top. I was thrilled to watch it appear before my very eyes.

Another day, I was sick in bed with measles, and of course, unhappy about taking a nap. My mother (who in later years was responsible for my being voted Best Dressed, based on my unique, sophisticated, homemade prom dresses) showed me a shoe box. She said that if I napped, there would be a surprise for me inside. When I awoke, I opened the box which she had left by the bed. It contained a beautiful blue gingham dress for my favorite doll, just like the one she had made for me the week before. REAL MAGIC is made with experience and skills.

Adults should impress their beginners with magic whenever they get the chance... then teach them a small trick to show that it's possible for them as well. Seeing is believing and learning. I know how to solder and I know how to sew. You could play the piano, then teach chopsticks to your beginner. Change the oil in your car, then show her how to oil the wheels on her bike. Bake a cake, take pictures, make a scrap book. Show off... be impressive and then teach a small part of the magic.

When you reveal your secrets, beginners will learn that anything is possible with experience and practice, ideas and skills. To children the special things you do are magical. Do real magic and share its secrets... especially at Halloween when  magic is in the air!


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