To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Year 4: Part 1: Post 3: Manifesting Love

As usual, I face the problem of writing in the persona of my younger self about things my younger self would not have talked about. By my fourth year on campus I knew there was no point in pretending for my friends, but there was still no way I would have admitted to being a virgin in a public blog! So, in the following post when I say I'd never had a serious relationship with Ebony was pretty serious. It just wasn't sexual. -D.

Well, Valentine's Day has come around again and I have no one to give flowers to. As you may recall, Kit organizes this thing every year where you can have roses sent to people on Valentine's Day. It doesn't have to be anyone romantic, but I'd feel weird about sending roses to someone I didn't have those kinds of feelings for. Last year I sent a rose. This year I didn't.

I thought about it. I could have sent one to someone I still have feelings for, but that would obviously be a bad idea for everybody involved. Or I could have sent flowers to a couple of people I think are cute, but, I don't know, that seems juvenile somehow.

I'm almost twenty-three and I've never been in a serious relationship, and the truth is I don't really know how to get in one. I mean, I'm not a bad-looking guy, but I'm awkward and a half. What, do I just wait for the right person to show up? Isn't there more to it than that?

As I've said, the magic modality I've chosen something called "manifestation," which is something like positive thinking. Basically, you identify what you want to happen and then have faith that it will and then it does. Sometimes. I've given serious thought to trying to manifest romance.

The problem is that even though I've been practicing manifestation for well over a year now, I'm not sure it's actually real. It seems to work--the things I try to manifest usually happen, one way or another. But I don't believe the explanation that Joy provides.

She says that manifestation is another aspect of systems thinking, the idea that everything in the universe is connected and can influence everything else. She says that it is just another version of transforming energy, just like coal, which is cold and dark, can be transformed into heat and light--which she says is simply a higher vibrationational incarnation of the potential inherent in coal.

The problem is that burning coal is not an example of anything being converted to a higher energy state--it is actually conversion to a lower energy state. Coal has more energy, and less entropy, than carbon dioxide and when you burn coal the energy it held is lost forever. We covered this in class--more than one class, actually. I don't understand why nobody seems to remember this but me. Where is the causal mechanism that connects my mind to whether the hiking shoes I want are on sale? That is something I "manifested." I wanted a new pair of good hiking shoes, but couldn't afford them. Then I had an urge to go back to the store and look again, and there they were, deeply discounted, available for the exact value of a gift card I'd gotten for Christmas and happened to have with me that day. But how can "subtle energy" or "systems thinking" connect my wanting hiking shoes to whether the store puts them on discount?

I asked Charlie about it the other day. He was hand-picking aphids off a potted plant in the warm sprouting room off the Greenhouse.

"Charlie, do you do magic?" I began. He looked up at me over the rims of his glasses. He's far-sighted.

"Magic isn't a do, it's an are" he said. "The world is magic. We can be magic. That's the point, or part of it."

Strange how I've been his student for years but he never put it that way to me before, but then, I'd never asked. We'd only ever discussed our work in spiritual terms, saying that he was teaching me the skills of a naturalist so I could "get to know God." Now he was defining it in magical terms as learning to become part of the magic of the world. Either way, it's the same thing.

"That's not what Joy would say," I told him.

"That's why there's more than one of us teaching," he responded.

"How does manifestation work?"

"Surprisingly well, from what I've heard."

"No, I mean how does it work? By what mechanism? Because it doesn't work by the one Joy explains."

He smiled slightly, pleased, and then returned his focus to the aphids.

"There are two possible mechanisms I can think of," he told me. "Both may be in play. Either your intention influences your choices on a subconscious level--we generally know more than we can articulate--or confirmation bias leads you to remember those events that seem to manifest your intention more clearly than those that don't. However, the latter is not a good reason not to engage in the discipline."

"Why not?"

"Because if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. Optimism is encouraging."

The last of the aphids squished to green paste between his fingers and he blew at the plant, a kind of final cleaning, like an artist blowing pastel dust off of a completed drawing.

I don't at this point see how that helps me with my woman-troubles, but it's something to think about. For now, the most helpful thing might actually be something Greg told me years ago--that his version of magic, alchemy, is all about transformation, and that transformation changes things but it's seldom possible to know what is going to change or how.

The night before Valentine's Day, I helped Kit and several others cut and trim the little tea roses she grows and then we delivered them to the recipients' door-ways to be found, as if by magic, in the morning.

I didn't give any roses this year. And yet I gave all of them.

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