The Magic Created Just for You…Wisdom from Martha

magicEvery year, before I go to Londolozi, South Africa, for our annual Self Transformation Adventure Retreats (STARs), I expect magical things to happen. When I get there I always panic—Holy crap, I’ve promised something I can’t possibly create. Will the magical things arrive?

And every year, they do.

This year—whew!—was no exception. I watched our STARlings create magic for themselves, and I watched Africa embrace them, and it was awesome. But right now I’ll just tell you something that happened to me, me, ME, because as Nisargadatta Maharaj once half-joked, “God is doing all of this for me.”

Before leaving for Africa, I went to my favorite bird-watching store in San Luis Obispo and bought a fabulous hat. It was made in Canada, with straps both in front and behind (I challenge any of you to wear anything half so dorky).

Three weeks into my Africa stay, I was sitting with the Vartys, who run Londolozi, when master coach Michael Trotta said, “Do you know there’s a secret compartment in your hat?”

Sure enough, the crown of the hat has a false bottom, sealed with Velcro. Inside was a little plastic bag for storing things like money, or methamphetamines, or whatever (those bird watchers are CRAZY!). And inside the plastic bag was a small card. And on the card was a tiny photo of a man with an elephant. I read the card aloud to the Vartys, “Elephant trainer Michael Hackenberger of the Ontario Zoo had his Tilley hat snatched and eaten by an elephant. Three times.”

“Oh,” said the Vartys. “Michael Hackenberger. Yes, we know him well. He sold us some tigers. His elephant came from this area.”

Are you getting this? I bought a hat in California that was made in Canada, and unknowingly carried a tiny photo of an elephant back to the precise location in Africa where that elephant was born. Then I discovered the photo at exactly the time and place I’d read it to the people who could tell me about this…coincidence?

Are you KIDDING?

This proves nothing, of course. It’s just one hell of a coincidence. To me, it’s the vast intelligence of the cosmos winking at the point of itself that is me, saying, “This world is far more magical than you realize—oh, and by the way, God is doing all of this for you.” If there’s one thing I re-learn every year at Londolozi, it’s that every one of us can say that, and we’ll always be right.

P.S. Are you feeling the call to magical adventure? Jump on the STAR interest list to stay in the loop about our 2016 trip!

Lame Animal Totem: Gnu

gnuCompared to former Lame Animal Totems, such as the blobfish, this month’s winner is downright fetching. Compared to most animals, however, it is not. I speak of the the gnu (wildebeest), an antelope that looks as if it were assembled by a committee of people deeply angry at each other, and which could not win a battle of wits with a cantaloupe.

If wildebeest is your totem, you wield the awesome power of extreme awkwardness and profound stupidity combined. Use gnu energy at parties, driving others away from your favorite foods with your honking voice, lack of focus, and random, frightening bursts of sprinting. As a gnu person you should party often, because you’ll probably die young. No worries, though; you’ll leave behind approximately four hundred descendants. Your funeral will be a poignant festival of honking, butting, and sprinting into walls, though none of your descendants will be bright enough to recall what they’re doing there.

The New “No Normal”…Wisdom from Martha

I remember how relieved I was when I first heard someone say, “This is the new normal.” I was always trying to resist change, and I’d never, ever succeeded. The idea of a “new normal” allowed me to relax, no longer fighting pointlessly against the continuous change that is reality. Recently, though, I’ve had to read more…

Lame Animal Totem: Passenger Pigeon

Happy-Go-Lucky in a Dangerous World I’m into Passenger Pigeons this month because their closest relatives—Band-Tailed Pigeons—have been showing up at my bird feeders. Scientists are now asking people (this means you!) to put up feeders, because human interference appears to be killing off all birds, everywhere. Buzz-kill, huh? But wait! It gets worse! Passenger Pigeons read more…

Not to Worry: 10 Things to Stop Worrying About

Everywhere I turn these days, people are urging me to worry. “Restaurants are swarming with bacteria!” shouts a local news promo. “We’ll tell you what to beware of!” From the computer in my lap, a parenting blog warns, “There’s plenty to be anxious about.” Noting the pallor of my furrowed brow, a neighbor clucks, “I read more…

Lame Animal Totem: Gophers

Gophers are dirt-brown rodents with tiny eyes who hoard food in their large, fur-lined cheek pouches, bite aggressively when threatened, and use their hairy tails to feel around when they walk backward through their subterranean tunnels. In other words, they’re just like your Aunt Helga. (Remember Helga? She used to come over a lot when read more…