The word “magic” usually conjures (no pun intended) a lot of different reactions. Whether it is the fantasy world of Harry Potter, the parlor tricks of illusionists, or the books and practices in the New Age section of bookstores which are littered with tarot cards and other forms of divination, magic means different things to different people.
To really go back, it comes from the word “magi” which means “wisdom” in Ancient Persian. It also referred to the Wise Men, and had already developed connotations of being associated with tricksters, since the Magi were essentially those whose knowledge of the world was vastly different from the rest of the people. Specifically, what they knew was that they were more than just mere beings living on the material plane of existence because there was something more out there. Their methods for developing this understanding were what gave them differing views from others, specifically, manipulating fate through astrology and alchemy.
Let’s take a step back for a moment though: when we refer to astrology and alchemy in this context, it isn’t the newspaper astrology predicting if you will win the lottery, nor is it the alchemy that creates potions that transforms people into cockroaches. These were ways to look at the worlds around them, within them, and beyond them, and these were their ways of trying to help them better themselves and their world as they move between them.
Put this in a Third Culture Kids context: there is a certain fire that gets ignited at a point in our lives after we have endured the trials and tribulations of the world. It is precisely because we go out into the world that we know there is something beyond the house we live in, the neighborhood that house is in, the city that house is in, the state or province that house is in, the country that province is in, and the region that country is in.
We as Third Culture Kids perceive the world differently, and as such, the way we talk and interact with others, the way we try to define ourselves, and many of the things we do are beyond the sphere of understanding held by the people who have not been thrown into the world like we have been. As such, our greatest gift is our greatest curse: we know things that others do not, and the beliefs and values we have are a huge contrast to them as well, which creates the loneliness and alienation we feel when trying to fit in, not helped by others ostracizing us and reinforcing the notion that we are weird or abnormal.
This is where Third Culture Kids can learn from the magicians. As magic is wisdom, it is also a science, an art, and a religion: science in that it attempts to explain how the world works, art because of the open interpretations and different systems used to do so, on top of the way the world is perceived as a canvas to create and recreate at a certain level, and religion in that it teaches magicians to carry a higher level of conscience and consciousness.
We as Third Culture Kids have this higher level of consciousness from our travels. We as Third Culture Kids should use this knowledge to manipulate and recreate the world for all the beauty we see and to repair the wounds we know exist that many do not. We understand where it comes from, because we have lived in it and through it, and continue to live with it every day, whether it is the missionary child raised near the land mines in Cambodia, or the people in the Philippines who know any day they could be at a mall or church and be bombed, beheaded, or kidnapped by extremists.
The difference between the magicians and other people is that other people are programmed by outside influences and ideas, magicians are self-programmers. Do we allow other people to define us, believing that we are abnormal, that we are limited by our ethnicity, our passport country, our gender, our social class, or our possessions? Or do we let those labels and categories fall off of us because of our strong wills and open minds? It is the concept of Tabula Rasa, Latin for the blank slate, that allows us to follow the magicians to define and redefine ourselves, to create our own self-worth instead of letting others program us.
Plato’s cave allegory talks about people living in caves, seeing the shadows flickering on the walls and perceiving those shadows as reality. A man leaves the cave and sees reality for what it truly is, and that what everyone else trapped in the cave sees are shadows of reality. But because he has gone into the world and they have not, it is beyond their ability to understand or accept, and as such, he is ostracized and ridiculed. Because of his experience, he has acquired wisdom beyond the cave dwellers, and with that wisdom, he is also able to understand and accept that they do not know what he does, so instead of judging them and dismissing them, he learns to accept and love them, and use his magic (or wisdom) in subtle ways to guide them to their highest and truest potentials, and eventually to leave the cave and be in the world.
We are Third Culture Kids, we are magicians. Let us use our magic to love others, understand the world, and help make the world a better place. For the magician may be able to shape and reshape his reality by will alone, but a truly powerful magician manipulates the world and reality around him, much like Buddhas, Christs, Mohammeds, Martin Luther Kings, Gandhis, and one day soon enough, you and I.