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The magic behind the earth

Over the last week I’ve found myself, many times, wanting to phone my mother. “I should tell Ma,” I’ll think, and it’ll take me a beat to remember. I can’t tell Ma. Ma’s gone.

In the little library nook that sat in the corner of my primary school classroom, 35 years ago, there was a book about ghosts. I devoured it. There were tales of ghosts of actors who still haunted theaters, and of ladies in stately homes. One of the chapters was about a phenomenon where someone would have a wholly real interaction with a loved one, there in the room with them, only to find they’d died far away the same night. I was fascinated with that idea, and internalized it far more deeply than I thought I had, because I realized when Ma died that some part of me thought I’d get to speak to her one more time.

I speak to her every day, of course. But I’m speaking to a figment; a version of her in my memory, which in turn has to also be me. In a way, it’s a trick I’m playing on myself, perhaps to make it easier, although I’m not sure that it really does.

I go on long walks, often late at night, to get some exercise but also to order my thoughts. Sometime last year, I was walking through the hills near my parents’ house, and the wind picked up from nowhere and ran through my hair. I stood still for a moment, goosebumps running up my skin, and for a moment I could have sworn it was her.

I’m supposed to be a sensible adult, whatever that means, but I’m still the kid who got up to draw comic books an hour before school, I’m still the kid who feels a kind of magic beating behind the earthly mundane, and I’m certainly still the kid who hopes to catch a glimpse of a ghost so he can see his mother again.

I find that child, a version of whom lives inside all of us, to be more interesting, more endearing, and more alive than the middle aged skinsuits we wear that claim to care deeply about MAUs and ARR and our IRAs. That child - this private version of ourselves - is driven by curiosity and whimsy and the wonder of possibilities. That child knows that magic exists, in some form, if they can only find out how to use it. And they love, so much. The trick is to let them breathe.

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Twitter: @benwerd

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