My friend mentioned that his father sold a box of hangers he found by the garbage for $400. These hangers, with Chanel logos and cushioned padding sitting next to the garbage were just asking to be sold on eBay.
The first European explorers and colonists traded glass and ceramic beads with native people of the Americas, and the Hudson Bay Trading Company developed lucrative bead-trading markets. People could display their power and influence through decoration, in exchange for fur and natural resources from the land. Today we have the “beads” of Air Jordans, Prada corduroy, Coach handbags, all magical enhancements.
Ah, the beauty of the human mind — the belief that one can have supernatural skills because they wear a magical shoe, carry a handbag or have the right hair color. “Oh joy, rapture,” was the comment made when the Scarecrow was given a diploma of “Thinkology,” from the Wizard of Oz. Not only did Dorothy have the ruby slippers all along, it was Triple Cross and membership in the Legion of Courage that made the Cowardly Lion change his narrative, and a ticking heart that enabled the Tin Man to find evidence of having a heart.
Magical thinking is real. Children are defined as living in the “pre-operational” state of mind freely practicing pretend and can be reluctant to consider other points of view. Rational, scientific adults avoid the name “MacBeth” in a theater, and would never say “no hitter” when one is unfolding.
Honestly, taking the vaccine takes a leap of faith, it takes magical thinking. It is not the “anti-vaxers” who are alone in magical thinking. It takes a suspension of belief to think that something so simple as a shot in the arm can make such a huge difference. How many people who have taken the vaccine really understand the science behind how mRNA vaccines work? Yet 63.94% of Forest Parkers have decided that it is worth taking a vaccination to avoid the known personal and communal damage that can come from not taking it.
The narrative we tell ourselves, that motivates us to do or not to do is very powerful. Growth mentality, optimism and fear are powerful weapons we all have access to.
So it feels good to celebrate when there is success in magical thinking. Uli Leib was inspired to take a page out of a small New Hampshire historical society to create community invasion scarecrows, and her Forest Park Historical Society board and Arts Alliance board found the optimism and charm to support her dream that seems to hopefully capture a moment of magic.
With 94 scarecrow kits sold and with only six more available (at the time I am writing this), it is delightful to be on this side of the mystery, wondering what will be revealed in October, in your yard and in mine. The invasion is scheduled for a solid month and should take part in every corner of our town. Soon we will start to see the creations — the magical thinking unique to Forest Park.
It seems that our era is filled with magical thinking, cynicism and scary things, and for those who need an outlet, we can have a touch of pride in our collective imagination. While my scarecrow will not be donning a Hermes scarf, I look forward to seeing if anyone else creates the American Scarecrow in their yard.