Refreshing Hearts One Sentence At A Time
I slept on my head funny last night. I’m not sure how or why or for how long, but today my neck is as stiff as a broomstick and the inside feels like the rough, thick trunk of an old, dead tree. And the kids keep talking, and the tummy keeps gurgling, and the chocolates keep whispering from the cabinet.
When the challenge becomes overbearing, distraction is the key.
If the task seems impossible, you may be looking at the wrong side of it. The art of illusion is a seriously under-discussed ability. Publicists do it all the time, along with magicians, media writers, and politicians. I was recently introduced to this mastermind TV show called The Carbonaro Effect. In it, magician Michael Carbonaro assumes roles in normal jobs and performs the impossible before his unsuspecting audience. He can pull a bowling ball out of a pizza box, create a living being from a 3D printer, fill a whole juice carafe from one orange, pull gluten out of bread, and freeze-dry a dog. He performs these tricks in front of an everyday person, and he or she entirely believes the trick. Seeing is believing, I guess. You and I know that a toilet cannot be pulled out of a flat box, but the moving guy just saw it happen. Carbonaro shipped a kid from Germany to some small-town children’s play eatery, and the delivery guy almost passed out. The toy store clerk ran in terror as the bear she just stuffed began to chase her around the room. I guess I would too. We know it is impossible. But it happened. We saw it happen.
Watching this show has really boggled my mind. What else happens that is impossible, but we believe it because we saw it?
And what do you think we could actually accomplish if we believed in the impossible?
Work smarter, not harder.
I’m all for working smarter and not harder, by golly. When you face that moment where your goal seems too far away, too hard, or just plain impossible, do two things:
Magicians and illusionists languish in distraction to make their tricks a reality. Behind the curtain, somebody is squished into a very small space, someone is moving very fast with precision and skill, and somebody else is getting all the attention. When the going gets tough, put down science and feeling and hope and those gut-twisting nerves, and pick up the illusion that possibly This Thing Can Work.
Illusions occur in many steps, such as: creation, learning, practice, and implementation.
One Is The Loneliest Number: Creation Of The Idea
We’ve started with our goals. We have created the idea and decided to throw ourselves toward it, so we are on the right track! Woo hoo! Holla at ya! High Five! Mic drop!
Pick up the mic, though, cause we aren’t done yet. So.
Take A Look, It’s In A Book: Learning
The harder part comes next, where you have to learn about what you are doing. This helps with distraction, though. If you are changing your eating habits, read up on Why You Are Doing This, and What Can Help. If you are learning a new skill, read up on it, watch videos, flip through picture books, and talk to someone else who knows how to do it. Learn. Use that glorious gray matter! Take some Gingko! Yay for herbs!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Now act. Use that knowledge. This is the even HARDER part! Ugh! Take more Gingko! And like maybe a big swig of……water. Yeah. Water. What was I saying?
Oh yes. You may be wondering, “Hey, she just said that there was a harder part, and then a HARDER part, so where’s the downhill?”
Friend, my friend, o captain, my captain, I’m not sure there’s a downhill or easy part. Life is hard. It’s all hard. What a great fact that we have these other fabulous human beings around us to help distract from it, right? And God knew, he just knew, that we would be challenged, so that’s why he gave us the ability to learn, to appreciate all of the good, and to experience the joy in the success. So take that joy when you make it through another moment, and appreciate that you can retain knowledge, spark creativity in your mind, and implement these abilities. And also, be grateful for illusion. Be grateful you can only see one side of the trick at a time. We might not want to see the other side.
So back to it. We have learned and are moving forward. Now it’s lunch time, and you’re hungry, and you want a flippin’ cheeseburger. But you know you should have a salad and a chicken breast. Buuuuuut.
Illusion. Look past the challenge and instead do the opposite. Here’s where personality adds flavor. Some people can power through. Some can be like, “Psh. I like salad. I think it’s awesome and I can eat it every meal every day, no big deal, yo.” I am not that person. I love muffins. I am short-sighted. I love cheeseburgers. I blame my second child on the cheeseburger thing. When I was recovering in the hospital after that C-Section, I craved like no tomorrow a bacon cheeseburger from Whataburger and the feeling has not let up since. I can always eat a bacon cheeseburger from Whataburger. Nom nom.
Hence and therefore, I am not a power-through-er. Some people can reason and use logic: “I know that this fat bomb is a fat bomb, and therefore I decide to do what is best for myself. And that makes it an easy choice.”
Sometimes I can do this, but I’m somewhat of a wishy-washy person who is highly susceptible to advertising. And cheese. So I need distraction. I need the illusion! Sometimes I need to have someone to shove food at, and then run around the yard twice, and then slug down a cup of water, and then maybe take a shower, before I can sit down and say, “I am totally happy with this chicken breast.” And while I eat it, I watch my favorite TV show or read a fabulous book or write some ridiculous blog about magicians and unicorns.
But I’ve also noticed that while I am distracting myself, I’m not sitting there thinking about how hungry I am, how much I don’t think that I can change, and how much I doubt my abilities. Instead of looking at the challenge, I’m allowing the illusion to work its magic.
Now that we know we can make a choice to put our feelings aside for the moment, then we work on making the skills click. This takes time and patience. This takes meal after meal of choosing what is right. This takes hours of whittling, flossing, painting, writing, twisting, cutting, clipping, running, stretching, or whatever it is that you are trying to do.
I like commas. Commas give us the ability to do a little bit more while we are in the sentence that we are in.
If You’ll Look Over Here At This Hand: The Implementation
Glorying in the illusion also means letting someone or something else take credit for the accomplishment. This part is hard, too, yo! So often I want to get the thumbs up or the high five, but making better decisions for nourishing my body or changing my life to fight against cancer won’t get me melodious applause. Cancer won’t just randomly walk up to me on the street and say with a begrudging arm-cross, “Well, I’ve heard about you." He looks me up and down, fire in his black eyes. "I want nothing to do with you, ma’am, you’re infamous in my town.”
And the road to getting published is not fancy or all that fun. It’s work. It is gritty, and nail-biting, and sweaty, and tear-filled, and late nights and jitters, and heartbreak.
Getting that ideal job, being That Person you want to be, well, the behind-the-scenes work is what makes all the difference. And very often, even when you achieve those goals, The Work itself gets the glory. And that is okay.
It Really Is Like a Box Of Chocolates
I kind of hope you are struggling a little bit today, because I am. I like to struggle with other people, because when we overcome together, we can glory in the strength together as well. And then at the end of our 30 days together, we will have this story that we have woven and can see that even though every moment was not perfect or ideal, it was a part of the story.
And also, I hope you will consider the magic of illusion. Good or bad, necessary or not, it exists because we are too limited to fully see the other side of the trick. But consider that what you hear from others, or even yourself, might not be the entire story.
Then again, what do I know? I slept on my head funny last night.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
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