You’re over the threshold, but don’t get settled in just yet; I’ve got some thinking for you to do. I need you to open the doors of memory and wander back down the pathways of your mind to a point when you were a small child – maybe six or seven – and magic was still a possibility.
Just hold that place – that time – in the centre of your thoughts and think on it for a few moments.
What was that place, which was most magical to you? How did you feel when you were there? Was it a physical place full of wonder and nature, or the mind-boggling creations of mankind? Was it an emotional space, untethered from the tangible realm, where you could roam free in your imagination and be utterly at peace – utterly you? Was it an intellectual arena burgeoning in theories and concepts which flowed without stopping through your young mind, leaving a lasting impression in the oft-used neural pathways as you pondered more deeply each time? Was it a spiritual place, transcending time and physicality, where you felt that deep connection and filling of the soul like sails before a strong breeze, as your senses began to awaken and everything took on new meaning?
I want to know.
Because rightly or wrongly, I hope that this week, the productivity of one of my evenings will create magic for some small children, and blow their minds wide open to the fact that the world can hold wonders beyond their imagining.
It started with Sharpies (yes – the markers, and my penchant for having one (or two) about my person at all times, just in case*) and Husby’s generosity at the store this evening. He caught sight of a BIG pack on sale, and ran to fetch it for me, informing me that he knew I liked them, and he was thinking of me. He then espied an EVEN BIGGER and more glorious pack with an equal reduction in place, and decided that I should have the larger and more beautiful of the two, because more colours = more fun.
I *squeee*d with delight and gave him a big hug and a smile, and we continued on our merry way before he started to follow my every movement with the trolley, to the point that in the fruit aisle, I very nearly screamed. Through gritted teeth I asked him to keep further away from me, and stepped forwards to put a bag of apples in the trolley when he moved back. And continued to move back each time I stepped forward, a mischievous glint in his eye, letting me know that he was only doing what I had asked. He escaped with his life – it’s alright – but at that point I decided I might have earned the Sharpies for putting up with his antics on the shopping trip, and didn’t clobber him with the apples.
As soon as we got back to the holiday cottage, I pulled out all my favourites (the rainbow, a black, and a couple of extra pinks, a blue and a green) and packed them away in my bag in a pencil-case I just happened to have there (Mary Poppins has nothing on me – I have a wooden peg, a fork, an ice-cream spoon, tissues, painkillers, notebooks, bouncy balls and a paper laser in my bag, along with the usual paraphernalia).
Later that night, at the beach, I was delighted that my memory of an abundance of white, perfect stones was not over-exaggerated, and after our meal, I sat, sipping delicious toffee-apple cider, wrapped in Husby’s shemag, toes in the sand, salt wind in my hair and the ocean sparkling in the distance, making fairy stones.
[They’re not creatively named, I’ll admit that, but I prefer that moniker to ‘angel stones’ (or pretty much ‘angel’ anything) and I couldn’t think of anything more accessible to convey the idea that some magical being had been leaving surprising works of doodle at the beach, just to amuse whomsoever discovered it.]
Husby was suitably impressed with each doodle, and eventually we both got too cold to sit any longer in the shade, and our thoughts turned to cups of tea and the warm indoors, so I gathered my fairy stones, posed them for a quick photograph, and then stood, hurling them as far as I could in all directions, across the beach.
Having released them into the wild, bearing their new colours, I left the beach feeling satisfied; indulgently imagining some child, about Niece or Neff’s age, discovering them in the morning whilst beach-combing, and letting out a sudden exclamation of surprise before showing it to whichever grown-up they were attended by, and avidly searching for more.
I hope they will be found by the kind of child who will cherish them; the kind of child who could spend hours, head bent low, scouring the beach for beautiful shells, lucky rocks or interestingly shaped pieces of driftwood; the kind of child whose pockets would be filled with beach treasures after each visit; the kind of child who might develop an affinity for the ocean, a deep and stilling love of the sea, and see magic at every beach they visit – in short, the kind of child I was.
I like the idea that one day, when grown up, someone might ask one of those children to recall a magical time in their lives, when imagination was lithe and bright, and the world held endless opportunities. I like the ‘perhaps’ that one of my doodles might be part of cementing someone’s life-long love of the beach. And I love the possibility that whoever finds these might be brought a moment of joy.
Call it whimsy, if you will, but happen there were a way to reach back through time and offer some small token of unexplainable delight and encouragement to little-girl-me, even if it could be rationalised by the adults around her, I think she’d appreciate it. So for the sake of others like her, who might need a spot of magic and wonder to break through *for real* into their world, I’ll keep doodling on rocks and hoping that they’re found by the right kids.
Have you ever tried to make the world more magical? Did anything incredible happen to you as a small child, and leave an indelible memory of wonder? Do you think it’s a good thing to try to prolong the belief that sometimes, amazing things CAN *just happen*?
*In case what? Occasionally I have had cause to write names indelibly; restore the rubbed-off faces of plastic toys; draw semi-permanent tattoos on people’s skins; colour one fingernail in (just because); write addresses to overseas (I don’t know why, but I’m always more worried they’ll smudge if they’re going further…); and most importantly – draw on otherwise unimportant things which can hold a doodle.