Monday, October 3, 2011

If It’s in My Weekly Reader, It Must Be True

When I was in first grade—back in the Dark Ages before family-owned farms became artisanal and watermelons became seedless (and may I add tasteless) wonders—I read a fascinating article about witches in My Weekly Reader, the trusted news source for grade-school children. A single sentence captured my attention and my imagination: One sign of a witch is a dark spot on the palm of the left hand. (I’ve paraphrased.)

Gosh Golly! MY left palm sported a large, dark spot… I must be a WITCH! I was no longer just a middle child; I was special. For to be a witch meant I had superpowers. I just had to figure out how to activate them.

Dreaming commenced immediately. What would I do with my special lot in life? What did I want? Suddenly, the world had no limits.

Superficial desires sprang to mind, of course: Barbies, Breyer horses, doing a backstand from a stand-up position. But I also wanted global peace and a place where I could oversee the care of every homeless and orphaned creature of the world.

Over the years, the closest I came to being a practicing witch was in the theatre as Gillian in Bell, Book and Candle and as the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. I grew out of my desire for Barbies and Breyer horses, and halfway through my life I realized world peace was unsustainable. I’m still holding out for watching over orphaned animals.

Over the years, the dark spot on my left palm has turned increasingly lighter and smaller. Now it’s hardly noticeable.

And what of those superpowers?

I practiced wiggling my nose and waited for something snappy to happen, like the Bewitched ladies could pull off. I hoped for something courageous like the X-Men dished out, swooping down from the clouds to rescue a rabbit from a hunter’s trap or issuing a turbulent wind toward a gang of schoolyard bullies every time they even thought about tormenting someone.

Nothing. I was destined to be a normal middle child with an abnormal spot on her hand.

ut wait! What if we all have superpowers, whether we’re part of a coven or not? What if the special traits and talents that combine to make us unique—that provide us what we need to forge our singular path in life and to serve the world wisely—are our superpowers? These superpowers—for instance, patience, modesty, empathy—are with us all our lives, yet if we don’t recognize their value, we can’t employ them for the greater good.

Hmmm. I suppose we don’t have to be witches or X-Men to have influence in the world after all. We just have to be able to see our gifts and use them well.

[Drop cap by Jessica Hische.]

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