Magic 8 Ball
Updated: Apr 25
It was round, shiny, and black, like a small magical planet sent to deliver my adolescent self answers from the void. I wondered so much as a child about so many things. Why does God make us who we are? If reincarnation is real, why can't I remember my other lives? Once I asked my teacher, “Where do words come from?” To which she replied, “That’s a weird question.”
I lived in Utah at the time; little did I know then I was a ways away from safely asking something so philosophical. Or maybe her remark was a third grade thing and not a Utah thing. Who knows. Either way I viewed the magic 8 ball as a sort of gift from the Universe to better help me understand myself since I felt very alien in my life. Alien to my parents, to the other children, and to the land since we moved frequently.
I’d plant the shiny plastic orb firmly between both hands; it's physicality made my heart race with an urgency that the answers must also be real.
I’d close my eyes tightly with my question in mind:
Will I ever get married?
shake shake shake
I felt my whole being come to life.
Better not tell you now.
A sinking feeling set in.
I would continue chasing this high into my adulthood.
The high of not knowing and needing to know.
The high of needing an answer - a solution.
All of humanity is high on this.
The problem was, and is, I'd just ask again until I got the answer I wanted. It wasn't until my 30's I caught onto what exactly I had been teaching myself. I was self-taught in how to erase space - how to deny reality. How to reject what was in front of me for what I thought should be in front of me. I was learning insanity among other words; lessons in the obscurity of being human. How we rely on something completely benign to explain our situation of being - our existence, and then find a way to manipulate the answer if it’s not the one we want.
Perhaps looking for life's answers in a shiny plastic fortune telling orb wasn't the problem, but refusing to sit with reality was. Either way, this is just how I learned.
As an adult I upgraded to an actual information processor - Google - along with the rest of the first world. A useful tool no doubt, but it’s no oracle anymore than that black ball I held in my hands as a child. And yet I find myself asking Google to answer my life for me quite a bit lately. Please Google, tell me who to be. Tell me who I am. Because I have never known. As a girl I relied on other people to tell me who I was. I relied on magic 8 balls and horoscopes to tell me who I would be.
Sometimes I wonder about a world where humans guide one another more than our own individual truth or spirituality, and who I would be had I lived there. Maybe that world exists for others, it just hadn't for me.
I'm always in a perpetual state of identity crisis.
Always searching for something that makes me feel more me.
Google is like a drug for the identity crisis. Though I know it isn't really telling me what is to come, rather it offers the projections of what we fear and what we hope for. It removes us from conversations with ourselves, and with others as well. At least in reality. Instead it further instills a sense of instant gratification. It lets us believe that life can be reduced to a series of questions that have actual answers.
If only that were true.
I see others out there who seem to know themselves well, but I often just tell myself those people are faking it. That’s easier for me to digest. No one knows who they are, because who we are cannot be fully known. It’s an unfolding, ever-changing event to be known in this world. But then again, what does it mean to be known in this world? Does it rely upon how many people you know; how many likes and how many comments you get on your posts. Surely it's something heartier, meatier.
Something more personal.
Something that exists like a pulse.
Mary Oliver writes: In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.
I love when I stumble upon a set of words that reveal myself to myself, because perhaps that is how I begin to know thy own self. At least it's one way. Humans exist not only in reality, but in language. Not only do we have to go about our lives existing in the real world, but then we must form ideals and concepts and opinions towards all of it.
Gift or curse?
I often wonder.
Our words and our stories shape what we see through the holes in our skull.
Whether they are real in the physical world doesn’t seem to matter. They feel real to us. We treat our thoughts like nouns. We give them power. We make our words entities; forces. And before we know it we've collectively agreed upon certain series of words, and we let those rule our lives, and we don’t even realize we’ve done such a thing.
Then there comes a day when you notice you’ve agreed to a great many things you don’t actually agree with. Perhaps this is why you're insane? Or feel insane.
And then the hunt really begins for your (my) self. You travel the world some, move away from home, quit drinking, and work, but mostly you read. You keep searching for more words to reveal to you who you are.
You find some:
The wild world itself is holy.
I've been rejecting God for some time, but somehow these words remind me of God, and I like this God. This God is no man or woman. It is not dogmatic. It is not good or bad.
God just is.
Like me, kind of.
I just am.
And if I am from this wild and holy world, does this mean I too am holy? I know I've been tamed like all those before me. Humans have long told one another to forget where we’re from - the Earth/the Universe/Space.
But am I any less holy because of this?
Because of this taming I didn't ask for?
And even if I long to be untamed once more, to revel in the glory of wild existence, has my experience thus far not been a holy one? A real one?
Perhaps there is no real difference between the mundane and the sacred.
Perhaps it is all holy.
If everything is holy that would include the madness as well. And I don’t prefer to admit that. But if humans are holy, and all we create is just an extension of our beings, is that not also in a way holy?
Some use their branches to provide shade and connection, while others steal space, overgrow, and overtake the other branches.
I cannot know why this is so.
It seems our very nature is one of both darkness and lightness, and we have no real say in how others use theirs.
We can only stand firmly in our own way. Become a beacon to those who've lost theirs.
Sometimes I find if I stop asking why I finally get some peace, if even for just a moment. Maybe not all of our questions have answers. Maybe the peace can be found in accepting that.
Maybe the peace is in not having to be right.
When I must be right I lose nearly all of my compassion, and maybe that’s not who I want to be anymore - someone who is right.
I just want to be whoever I am, whoever that is in this moment.
The hunt for ourselves is an endless game of cat and mouse. Or rather, the donkey chasing the carrot, and you know, maybe that’s all life is. Chasing things. We think we left hunting and gathering behind, we haven't. Now it just manifests in other ways. But it is still very much part of our survival; to hunt and to gather.
We hunt for ourselves, and in doing so, we gather ourselves.
If we always stood still we’d miss a great deal. And yet, maybe there’s nothing to figure out. Maybe it can’t be done wrong. You just ride the ride, and when it’s over you get off. I once told my lover, maybe in the after life we just wait in line to ride the next adventure of existence, whatever form that takes.
He said, standing in line sounds like hell.
If we were meant to have all the answers, we would. So as my surrender, I write these words - more as a process than an outcome. They are a way for me to see in front of me what it is to be me. I understand some days are a gift, and others a curse, as I’m sure is the case for every single being on this planet. And whether we love it or not, care for it or not, want it or not, what was once given will be taken away.
One day I will be no longer, whatever I figured out I was.
Maybe the task is not to ponder all day who we are, but to just go along being it. To figure it out as we go, even if that includes pondering who you are all day;
To want the carrot even though we’ll never have the fucking carrot. The carrot isn't real, but it drives us. It gets us from one point to another.
To hold the black ball and know it holds no truth, but to ask anyway. Maybe under our need to know everything outside of us is the need to know what's inside of us. Maybe there is just nothing we can do about wanting to know what we cannot know, and looking for it anyway.
It is decidedly so.
The only answer we have is that we will live and one day we die.
And my, how we’ve tried to reject the latter. Perhaps our rejection of death was part of our un-merging with our wild and holy selves. Perhaps the day we denied death was the day we said we are not holy - we are better than that.
We denied part of ourselves, which meant we would forever be in search of the missing piece never realizing it was always there; we'd just refused to look it in the eye.
To deny death is to deny life.
To deny part of yourself is to deny part of your holiness.
And when I circle back to why, I remember I am caught in the trap of life.
And when I am caught, I remember to breathe. And the truth returns to me.
Truth is, the resounding truth has been mine all along. It never left. It’s been there hiding in plain sight. It is ours to keep, and to hold, and believe in with all of our might.
We will live, my love, and we will die.
Magic 8 ball, willI I ever find out who I am?
I close my eyes tight. Give me the answer I desire or I will find it somewhere else!
shake shake shake
Signs point to yes.
So long as you don't get so busy looking for yourself, you miss yourself altogether.