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Magical Thinking

 

Up until a few years ago, I was a very hopeful person. It wasn’t necessarily reasonable hope; some of it was fantasy-like, and full of magical thinking, but it got me through. The hopefulness started to recede as my health got worse, and as rejections piled up for my writing. And as the hope seeped away, I started to realize how necessary it had been.

"I believe there will be chicken in my future."

“There will be chicken in my future, right?”

Hope doesn’t have to be reasonable or rational. Hope is like a dream: it can defy gravity and space and time. I think it takes some amount of magical thinking to be a writer, or to remain in therapy, or to even plan ahead and imagine that things can be different in the future, instead of continuing as they are now, indefinitely.

"If I dream about a walk, it will come."

“If I dream about a walk, it will come.”

Butterfly gives me hope, because of how sweet she is, despite eight years of being used and abused at a puppy mill. I believe that Butterfly survived her ordeal by believing in magic, and dreaming of a place, far away, where she could run and play and eat as much as she ever wanted. Even if that fantasy had never come true, the dreaming of it still would have made her days easier to bear.

Butterfly's first day home

Butterfly’s first day home

Dogs are role models for hopefulness. They wake up in the morning believing there will be walks and cuddles and food and excitement. They give us hope that life can be good even if its parameters are small; even if the gifts available are small. They give us hope that a life filled with love might be enough.

"I have Mommy's sock and that means I have Mommy."

“I have Mommy’s sock and that means I have Mommy.”

Dogs are trying so hard to teach us happiness, and we are stubbornly resisting the lessons and holding on to our pessimism. They must be so frustrated with us.

"Treats?!"

“Treats?!”

Magical thinking is supposedly bad for me, like chocolate cream pie, or fried chicken. It’s a vice, a drug, a crutch that has deleterious effects on my mental health. But magical thinking is also where my hope comes from, when reality can’t supply it. If my life had been lucky, and most of my efforts had paid off in success, and most of my dreams and goals had been realized, maybe I wouldn’t need magical thinking. But I don’t know anyone whose life is like that.

Even under the worst circumstances, it’s the hopelessness that will destroy you. Being too realistic, too practical, too down to earth, can kill a person.

"What's next?"

“Treats?”

Cricket always believes that she will get a plateful of whatever we are eating for dinner, and that she could eat a whole rotisserie chicken on her own without any bad after effects. There’s something about magical thinking that is vital to our well being. It’s what allows us to believe in things that don’t yet exist. It allows us to go beyond what we’ve been told in school, or by our parents, and imagine something different for ourselves.

"Yummy!"

“It’s my turn next, right?”

Maybe I haven’t lost my hopefulness after all.

Sweet dreams.

Sweet dreams.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

187 responses »

  1. Magical thinking is essential, for writing and for life. People who say otherwise are missing a dimension and trying to force their misery on the rest of us. Dogs are full of magic and fortunately for us they’re generous with it!

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  2. This is a lovely post , hope always have it hold on to it.
    Although it can hard a t times.
    Lovely shots of your little darlings, they give us so much love.
    Sheila x

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  3. *love* like isn’t strong enough! *love*

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  4. This is a wonderful post and such a gentle reminder of the power of hope and yes, magical thinking-all three of my dogs are rescues and I can see the same optimism with each one with each new day-for them, there will always be enough food, enough treats, enough safety to allow them to live their day to the fullest-in spite of the extreme deprivation and abuse they have suffered in the past- this is one of your best posts ever Rachel-Thank you!!

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  5. Hopwfulness and an expectation of fairytale endings is a great trait. Dickens’s Wilkins Micawber had it right. So does Cricket. of course – she is always right as a Cricket!

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  6. Keep hoping! Life is about putting one step in front of another, and counting our many blessings, isn’t it? Pip

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  7. I agree with a lot of the comments here… this is definitely one of your best posts. I love my dogs dearly but I have never thought of them as a beacon of hope and positive thinking as you have pointed out. Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately—because I haven’t seen my dogs in almost 2 months. I can’t wait to be with them again next week!

    Thanks for this! Great read!

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  8. Never, ever, ever lose hope. Magical thinking, curiosity – whatever you want to call it – must be present in order to write.

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  9. I’m glad your hopefulness is still there. Even a small dose of hope make each day a little better. I’m looking at a dog right now who hopes I will drop my sandwich on the floor. And I’m pretty sure she’ll at least get some crumbs.

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  10. We can learn a lot from our puppies, no matter what they are always hoepful. I get what you mean about magical thinking leading us astray, I am guilty of that, but I like my magical happy places. It is hard to stay away from them. 🙂

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  11. This was soooo needed. As you may know, haven’t been feeling my best lately and your post made me smile and hope. Thank you!

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  12. For all you speak of hope, I can sense the sadness in this and I feel for you. Dogs are a great consolation and such selfless companions that they know, more than any human can know, when things are a little depressing. So cuddle closer, Butterfly and Cricket, and help your mistress all the more tonight. May there be the brightest of dawns tomorrow!

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  13. I am a fan of magical thinking. I do that a lot.

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  14. Enjoyable read..great blog

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  15. Magical thinking cannot be a vice! As you say, it’s what gives us hope and doesn’t really hurt us unless we avoid taking some healthy action as a result. I wish I could think magically ALL the time! Thank goodness for the puppies!!

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  16. Pingback: Magical Thinking or Manifestation? From Hope to Realization | LIFE PATHS for Better Endings

  17. Just to share a line from my poem …. “Hope does not give up, it draws on an inner strength, courage emerges.” Keep those magical thoughts flowing, hug your furry pals daily, they are your magic creatures.

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  18. Reject the rejections. You are a wonderful writer. I always look forward to your posts.

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  19. I’ve lived all my life with cats. And as a result, never got to know dogs well till this last year, when I had the opportunity to get to know a bitch very well, and to learn to love her. We are friends now, for about a year, and yet I am still amazed, and constantly learning from her to let the heart lead. I don’t know about magical thinking… I don’t know if it would feel right for everyone; but there is a great advantage to positive thinking. I see that as looking for the things we admire and appreciate, and not focusing too much on what irritates or saddens us. Truly enjoyed this post.

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    • Thank you! I love the idea that we can change the world by focusing on the things that we love and adding to them as much as we can. I’m a little bit in danger of adding one dog after another to my life until there’s no room left for bad things. This is how hoarding begins.

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  20. A very sweet post and exactly what my tired ❤️ needed to hear today. We really can learn so much from our dogs. Our family has always taken in adult Siberian huskies who have been in several homes and then pounds but they don’t sit and think how unfair life has been–they are more concerned about enjoying the chewie they have today than the chewie they didn’t get when they were puppies.

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    • Thank you! Butterfly has eaten enough kibble in the past two years to make up for whatever was missing for the first eight years. I don’t know that she’s thinking about it, she just knows she’s always hungry!

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  21. Dogs are the best for so many reasons and you’re right, their hopefulness is very encouraging. And silly.

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  22. I love this….keep the magical thoughts. x

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  23. Beautiful article, I believe my dog has instilled in me similar magical feelings of hope! Dogs are amazing little things aren’t they. I hope Butterfly continues to inspire you.

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  24. This is so sweet!! And thank you for checking out my blog!

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  25. Indeed both of my girls are my beacons of hope, and the Zush would not bat an eyelash while inhaling an entire rotisserie chicken….lol

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  26. My Trev is my world…I believe dogs are furry angels with invisible wings…I feel blessed to have my buddy as you do with your twin fur babies…You are one blessed woman!!!! Hugs

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  27. Thank you for liking my books on my blog site X

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  28. I loved your captions and inspiring blog today. Thank you.

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  29. I’m sorry that you’re struggling. I, too, have a strange neurological thing happening to me. We call it fibromyalgia, but really it’s my own personal disorder. I’ll call it the Patty disease. Keep your spirits up! The writing is valuable, even if you’re not getting the professional responses you’re hoping for…yet. I’m enjoying reading your blog, and the stories about your pups. Keep the magical thinking up!

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  30. Beautiful and touching.

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  31. I hope you don’t mind, Rachel… I shared this on Facebook. This post is so clever and inspiring. YOU are clever and inspiring.

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  32. You Are a good writer. I’m following you. I reblogged this since my dog post got the most traffic.

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  33. What a lovely post; we all need a little magic in our lives. Thanks for reminding me that its already there in my own–with my dogs, cats, friends and more.

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  34. Oh I really like this post:) I surely do appreciate the magical thinking of my dog – also a rescue – so glad you rescued Butterfly!

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  35. Lovely. Our dogs can teach us so much, can’t they? They are ever hopeful…

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  36. The Gospel of Barney

    Sissy’s greetings when I get back even from the shortest absence, make my day! The Happy dances and butt wiggle give me the giggles!

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  37. Down to earth is vastly over rated. God bless the magical thinkers!

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  38. Thank you ! Nice to meet your lovely doggy again. Alla

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