I am trying to finish a new book based on the concept of Real Magic, and it has been one of the most challenging projects of my life. I struggle to write about the transcendence I experience in the natural world without it sounding corny or fake or forced. Some of these stories are so incredibly magical that I find that even I doubt my experience. There are days I just want to give up. Yesterday morning was one of those days. So I did what I do when I need a reset–I go to the woods. I took all three dogs and went up to the Oakland Hills, and we hiked.
I ask a lot of the natural world. Yesterday as I was hiking, I asked for a sign that I should continue writing this book. Should I even try to translate this sacred relationship into words? Or should I just leave it alone? I said, once again, aloud, for the hundredth time alone amongst the trees, “I need a sign.”
I continued walking and contemplated what I would do if I received no sign, if there were no magical visitations or discoveries. Would I quit working on the book? Would I start a totally different project? Right then, I stumbled upon a stunning owl feather in the path. I stopped, picked it up, snapped a photograph, offered some water in gratitude, and said, OK. OK, Thank you. That was all I needed.
I continued and at the final bend in the trail, high up in a tree, sat the enormous Great Horned Owl. She was cleaning herself, preening, flipping her wings, shaking, and she stopped what she was doing and looked straight at me with piercing yellow eyes. Then, I noticed behind her, two faces. There were two babies in her nest, their feathers still fuzzy and white, their faces dark in contrast.
My stomach flipped with excitement, because this is what I mean by real magic. This is the natural world showing up and saying it is present. Remember how I wrote about the two owls outside my window a few weeks ago? Now, unbelievably, when I asked for reassurance, they appeared in my waking life.
I made a promise to myself in that moment: I will finish this book. I will stop the doubt. Believing is so much more beautiful and hopeful than doubt anyway, isn’t it? And in this moment, I choose beauty and hope.