We are walking down the street of a wonderful old city somewhere in Transylvania. As we walk, I spot a small door on a big old house, next to the main entrance. Jokingly, I say:
– Oh cool, so this is how the dwarfs would go in the house!
– They used these kinds of doors not to enter, but to load and unload food and other provisions in the basement — he replies.
And I find myself thinking: OK that sounds like a plausible explanation 😀 And then it strikes me. It’s what we are all used to — we look for the reasonable explanation. Once we find it, we are free move on with our thoughts and lives. It doesn’t even need to be right (who knows, maybe that door was used for other things?!?). It just needs to sound right. But who said this is how we should see the world?
Who said that a magical explanation brings less value than a logical one?
Somehow, when we are kids, finding the magic in things is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. If you don’t eat your dinner, a bear will come and eat it. If your tooth falls, the tooth fairy will come and bring a new one. When you feel sad or hurt, your dad can just hover his hand over your face, throw the tears away and you are happy again.
But then comes a time when we grow up. And magic needs to stop, so that we can all see the world in the same way. Every question becomes a logical puzzle with one right answer that we need to solve. We don’t allow ourselves to think (or say) that the door was there for the dwarfs to go in. Not anymore.
– Couldn’t the dwarfs go through the main entrance? — laughs my friend.
– They need the door to fit them, why you don’t have a 10m door at home? It’s not comfortable. Besides, they had this belief that it’s good for their toes, that it keeps them healthy.
The talk goes on. A mundane topic just got weird, but interesting. What if this? What if that? What would have been disagreement on the logical plane where one answer is needed, causes laughter and imagination on the magical one. Because everything is allowed! There is no right or wrong, just play and exploration. No ego competition, just collaboration that builds on what the other just said.
We’ve chosen to restrain magic to art. Everything else should be ‘real’.
The dwarfs exit our conversation like they entered, through the small door. But they leave an aftertaste. A realization that we together, as humanity, at some point in the past decided to put all the magic into our art. And leave the rest of the world to some form of reality we agreed was more… real.
A writer can write about hobbits and talking cats and 100 uses of your towel in space. A painter can paint a crow in a skirt. A singer can sing about the ‘Misty Eye of the mountain below’ and ask it to save his brother’s souls. But if that same guy came and sat next to you and tried to explain to you how much he hopes that the Misty Eye of the mountain will protect us from the firy dragon that’s coming, you’d think he’s completely lost it.
Solving problems fast is just as important as knowing how to keep a question open in our minds.
It’s amazing how much of our potential we lose not getting to know the magical side of our world. A logical explanation makes you think the problem is solved, closes your mind, makes you believe that ‘yes, this door was used for supplies’. When there is no power on earth that can guarantee this is true! It’s nothing more than a theory with a pretence of being right.
A magical explanation does not require you to commit to a single solution, put a stamp on the issue and move on. It’s open for exploration, for the next step. There is no place for being right or wrong. Magic is just there to make you smile. And imagine. Imagine more. And remind you that you have the ability to break the rules that society has built for your thoughts and actions.
Logic closes the topic, while magic is just getting started.
Without the power of magical thinking, there can be no entrepreneurship and progress in society. Sure, you need the genius to make what you imagined a reality. But first you have to be bold enough to imagine it. It seems that innovation is reserved to those few guys who dare to see magic… Information flowing through air. Talking to a friend on the other side of the world. Flying like a bird. Having a fire that doesn’t burn on your table. Or making every single word of information on the internet searchable.
We think, OK so these things are cool, but not really something to think or talk about in our daily life. “I have all this stuff to take care of.” Let art talk magic. It has no place in business. No place in governments. No place in the talk between friends walking down the street. No place even in our minds. But hey, we need innovation, right?
If we want magic to be there to help us in hard times when we need collaboration and creative solutions, we need to invite it in our rooms, thoughts and conversations. Today.
Every day. Regardless of the place and time. We can’t ask it to ‘be there for us’ otherwise! It’s like asking a 150kg couch potato to climb a 3000m peak — without training, it just won’t work. The time has come for us to get some serious ‘magic training’. Technology will soon be doing most of the ‘stuff we need to take care of’. And we will have no excuse for not imagining, for not making the world a better place.
And it’s funny, because it’s so easy to change once you decide you want it. Tonight, on your way back home imagine how the traffic lights are affecting the lives of fairies. Next time someone asks you what this cable is for, consult your pet dolphin whether it thinks the dwarfs can use it to put their clothes to dry on it.
Or just ask your 6-year-old (self). He or she knows best.
*** Originally published on Medium, 19 June 2015.