Don’t believe everything you hear.
That’s what we’re told from a young age, right?
And I am the first to admit that I tend not to believe anything I hear without good solid proof. I don’t want to be taken for a fool. No wool is being pulled over my eyes, thank you very much.
My personal need for explanation comes from two places:
1) Being Mowgli’s sister. Mowgli is a first class wind up merchant and loves nothing more than to laugh at the people he loves. Which means that as his big sister I have been the brunt of many hilarious jokes, including him once telling me in front of a room full of football supporters (I’m not one I’m afraid. Nothing against them, just never got involved) that a team I’d never heard of had won against a team I had vaguely heard of. I replied with the standard ‘oh right, brilliant!’ (Not in a sarcastic voice, I hasten to add. I’ve always attempted to feign some kind of interest to keep my brothers talking to me) and everyone laughed because of course the team I’ve never heard of hadn't won against Real Madrid. Duh.
So that’s left me scarred for life, and is the reason that I would now need to know everything about both teams and hear the score from a source besides my brothers before I made a decision about whether this was true. It is also the reason that I really dislike people talking about things I don’t understand and therefore have personality trait number 2….
2)Being interested in everything. I need to know about everything. Got an opinion? I want to know why you’ve got that opinion. I want to find people who have the opposite opinion and find out why they have it. I want to talk to as many people as possible about it and think about it for days and then I want my own opinion. I want to read and talk and listen to facts and opinions and then share mine. I mentally write blog posts every single day on various topics that I’m still deciding my opinion on that never see the light of day. My best friends regularly receive ‘you’re in this situation, what would you do?’ messages- it’s not a situation I’m in, it’s come from something I’ve been discussing and I want their honest opinion. Sometimes I’ll just ask an opinion and people will think I’m trying to argue. I’m not. The other day I asked my dad his opinion on a very controversial topic and actually his opinion totally matched mine. But when I asked him how he got to that opinion he replied, totally uncharacteristically, “I just do!” until I told him I agree. Then he gave a perfectly acceptable reason.
Anyway, the point is that I am a terrible culprit for needing to understand everything.
But recently I have begun to think that maybe there’s a fine line between avoiding being taken for a fool and actually missing out on a whole lot.
Because recently a lot of magical things have happened around me, and I’ve found myself questioning how much I believe in it…
1) Literal magic. Dale and I took a relatively new but very important character- Abu- to see Impossible- a West End show involving the world’s leading five magicians blowing our minds. They cut women in half, read minds, made huge objects disappear (I’m being deliberately vague in case you decide to see it) and broke all laws of gravity. I spent at least half of the show trying to work out how they were doing it.
2) Other-worldly magic. I saw a medium. I am not wanting to discuss the merits or otherwise of seeing a medium, and any comments on my blog site or on any of my social media pages regarding an opinion on this will be immediately deleted. But I spent the whole time trying to justify everything that was said to me. When I couldn't find my phone during the break I was absolutely convinced that the medium had taken my phone and that was how she knew so much about me. I’d left it on the kitchen side in my dad’s house.
3) Future magic. Similar to the one above, I guess. I had my cards read. This was actually last November, and whenever I’ve mentioned it to people since they've suggested all kinds of solutions as to how she could have described my job with better precision than I can. But that’s what we do, naturally. When I tell people about my experience, saying I just have no idea how she could have known so much, they want to explain it to me, for their own peace of mind. Maybe the organiser of the charity event that this was at took time out amongst all the organising and her full time job to Facebook stalk me and pass everything on to the lady before I went. Maybe she overheard my friends discussing at length what I do- because that’s what my friends do with their time. Discuss my job. Maybe she secretly asked the girl who was in there before me- who happened to be my best friend- what I do.
Or maybe we will never know how she knew. And maybe that’s okay.
After all this wondering, thinking, rethinking, questioning, discussing, writing, reading, and listening, I realised.
I don’t need to know the answer.
The performers in the magic show weren't pulling any wool over my eyes. They weren't trying to trick or hurt me. They weren't trying to keep anything from me, or make me look a fool. They were trying to make my ordinary life feel a little bit extraordinary for a day. They were trying to get me excited about something, to make me feel that there’s more to life, and that I was impressed. That my constantly working mind couldn't work this out because it was just magic.
Mediums, card-readers. They’re not trying to make me out to be an idiot, or to get my hopes up for nothing. If it turns out that none of its true, that there is some kind of trick behind it like the London show, what harm did it do? It reassured me at a time that I clearly needed to be reassured, and gave me hope that I didn’t realise I had been desperate to be given.
Who cares how real it is?
Now this was a big revelation for me, as someone who needs to know everything.
But there's one area that I've always embraced my desire for less knowledge and more magic.
Much to the amusement of everyone I know that works and has worked for Disney, I hate knowing backstage secrets. I loved working for Disney and everyone that meets me says that they can totally imagine it, but actually the part of both of my jobs for Disney that I hated was knowing what’s Behind the Magic.
There are endless social media posts and blogs that claim to reveal these secrets. My best friend recently sent me a screen shot of one asking whether they were true. They weren’t. But not many people would get the truth out of me anyway, I hate hearing secrets and I hate giving them away.
And I don’t understand people’s obsession with knowing the truth behind the magic.
I recently heard that the reason that men have historically wanted to know the truth behind magic tricks is that they wanted to be able to explain things to their wives. I did say historically. I think it’s the same with Disney. People don’t want to know for themselves, they want to know so that they can tell other people, and because- as I mentioned- they're so frightened of being taken for fools.
Remember when you were little, and believed in everything?
What a magical time that was. And I wouldn't change it for the world. It didn't make me foolish or gullible, it made every day exciting.
When I was a Nanny I used to come out with all sorts to make life fun for the children, and I do often wonder how old they'll be before they realise they're not true.
I once took them on a hunt for evidence that reindeer had been around looking at the house. We found it everywhere. And now, four years later, even I still subconsciously acknowledge that random grooves in the pavement mean reindeer have been here.
Equally I wonder whether in fifteen years time they will be adults eating their shepherd's pie thinking it will make them a cowboy.
I began thinking about the things that I believed as a child. Of course we all had Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, square eyes from watching television and curly hair from eating our veg, but some of my nearest and dearest had some absolutely brilliant beliefs when they were little...
1) All the clever people work in London, and the capital city is full of geniuses. This friend learnt the hard way that this is not true when she witnessed a grown man walking straight into a pole at 9 in the morning.
2) Tea is for women and coffee is for men.
3) If you swallow a fruit seed that fruit will proceed to grow in your tummy. There was an episode of The Rugrats in which Chuckie swallowed a watermelon seed and exactly that happened. Cue fear in children everywhere.
4) Being a policeman is definitely the best job because policemen live forever.
5) Going to the hairdresser is only for teenagers.
6) Power generators that have smoke coming out of the top of them are actually cloud making machines.
7) Lorry drivers and bearded men are secretly monsters.
8) The moon really is made of cheese and there really is a little man who lives on there on his own.
9) Radio involves a series of performers singing there and then for the presenter.
10) This last one actually isn't really a belief, but it really made me laugh when one friend messaged me saying that she thought the lyrics to the Mickey Mouse March were M-I-C Katie White M-O-U-S-E.
So this is me, lovely readers, declaring that I am going to embrace belief. I am, for once, not going to vow to be more grown up, but am going to vow to be more childlike. I am going to stop being so scared of others making a fool of me (I do enough of that myself, no idea why I worry really), and am going to accept the magic around me at face value.
I believe that it will make me less sceptical.
I believe that it will make my ordinary life more extraordinary.
And I believe that it will make me happier <3