Magic could be defined as a sort of knowledge. It’s knowledge that is unknown. Or not understood. Or unseen. Hidden.

It also has certain connotations, both good and bad, depending on what perspective you are coming from. I’m a writer, and a Christian. As a human I find the concept of magic to be be morally neutral. It’s just is an aspect of existence in our universe. You can’t see it, or measure it, or prove it, but it’s real. However, I also believe that certain expressions and manifestations of it in this world ought to be treated with caution, and even avoided. Maybe when you see it the way I see it you’ll understand why.

A nightmare I had last night is a good illustration of this concept. At the time I woke, I had some nausea and was frightened. I recorded it immediately. This is what I wrote:

General folk wisdom recommends that you don’t draw faces, especially certain faces. If you do, it conjures evil spirits. Everyone knew this in my dreamworld. I didn’t.

There were rules too. Certain things you could not talk about. Or think.

Mother breaks one of these rules. I try to warn her, but it’s too late. A mysterious stranger appears.

A conflict ensues. She is knocked unconscious.

I must fight off the stranger alone. I manage to elude him. I hide.

The rule is: I must not think about my hiding place, or I will no longer remain hidden.

The trouble with magic is that even when you don’t know the rules, they still affect you. Life is all about these hidden rules. Some are called science. Others are called morality. True magic is not created by humans. It is discovered. Harnessed.

Gravity is a hidden rule. So is falling in love. And also unconditional love.

Just as ignorance of the rules cannot save you, knowledge of them is no guarantee of safety either.

What I’m Reading

It’s day sixteen of my 21 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s prompt is reading, specifically what am I reading right now. In the past month I haven’t done much actual reading, but I have given it more serious thought than ever before.

My typical method of reading has been to pick up whatever book interests me in the moment. I would get up early in the morning to avoid disturbing anyone. In those days, reading or writing was not an activity I was encouraged to do. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say it was forbidden.

I kept most of my books in my closet. Occasionally, when my interests or focus would change, I would spend several hours, sometimes little by little over the course of several days, ordering and arranging them into a kind of system.

Since then, circumstances have changed, and I once again have the opportunity to read as freely as I did in college. There are only two differences: time (a newfound awareness of its brevity, and the management of this limited resource) and direction (the simple complex decision of what to read).

Most of my reading lately is focused on spirituality, psychology, and self-help. It’s been a difficult year. My choices these days are Psalms and Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton.

I spent some time this month organizing my books on Goodreads for the first time. It’s daunting to see people with hundreds and even thousands of titles on their virtual shelves. I also created a system for intentional reading and learning. It’s part book queue and part note-taking system on Evernote.

Last night I spent hours rereading my personal journals for this year, reflecting on what I’ve learned and on my progress.

In the upcoming year, I hope to read more poetry, memoir, and certain books in the magical realism genre.

Other books I’m slowly but surely working my way through: Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst, The New Diary: How to use a journal for self-guidance and expanded creativity by Tristine Rainer.

Books I’ll most likely read next will be No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet.

I also read articles and blogs daily in my Feedly and on my Flipboard apps and organize them on Pocket.

It can be a little overwhelming, and I’m still in the process of creating a working system to read more in general (going to try a 20 pages a day habit) and to read more efficiently and effectively, as a writer.