Every night for countless weeks over the summer before writing my new book, A Beginner's Guide to the Universe, my daughter and I fought the same battle, with varying twists.
She was Moana, from our favorite Disney film.
In the shallow end of our swimming pool was her invisible family; they all loved and accepted me. I was Maui (also from Moana). Together, we’d cross turbulent seas toward my family, on the thick blue floatie, to the deep end where the bench was built into the side of the pool, trying to elude the murderous Kakamora pirates.
Shortly into our quest, the volcano mistress Te Kā (she and the pirates were also of Moana and invisible) would rear her head, throwing massive molten lava rocks at us as we navigated to the far edge of the pool for safety. My daughter would scream. I’d scream. We’d fight back with all our might as the film’s soundtrack blasted from patio speakers into the woods surrounding our home.
Triumphant, she'd meet my family, who loved and accepted her, and we’d sail back to her family. Every night. For months. What a production! What a summer! We were swept away by art imitating life imitating art!
The magic of the ocean, so brilliantly portrayed by the writers of that great film, is exactly what I’ve been teaching adults, except that it works on land too.
It exists for us, you’re supposed to use it, it’s intelligent, a friend, and it yearns to help you help yourself. Implied repeatedly throughout the story was the fact that “the magic” could only help Moana when she:
1. Had a dream—a specific vision, need, or goal,
2. Really cared, emotionally, about it (because she or her dream would otherwise die), and
3. First, however feebly, took action.
Time and again she would physically throw herself into the ocean intending to save her island, or find Maui, or retrieve the emerald heart of Tafiti. A seemingly outrageous notion that this tiny, fragile person, flung into an ocean as wide as the planet, might make a difference.
Yet because she did act—demonstrating belief and expectation, the imagination, dreams, and baby steps—the ocean responded. Came alive. And exponentially magnified her efforts.
This is life’s greatest manifesting secret...
After passionately having a dream and caring about it, you must act on it, even when you don’t know what to do. Even when it seems hopeless. Even when you don’t know how your mortal “baby steps” could possibly make a difference.
Having a goal is easy. Caring about it is usually easy too. But taking action when it feels like your chances of success are infinitesimal—that takes a superhero.
Only when you act does life’s magic respond. You’ve got to have skin in the game, or there’s no game.
Do something, literally anything in the vague direction of your dream, regularly and consistently, and then, seemingly from nowhere, when you least expect, the magical winds of change begin to howl.
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