Once upon a time, I believed a massive Tyrannosaurus Rex lived on the other side of a dairy farm just passed my house and as I would try to drift to sleep it would stomp its way towards my house, looking for a small child to gobble up. The quieter I tried to be, in an attempt to keep the T-rex from finding me, the louder his foot stomps would become until I would finally hold my breath and the stomps would race passed my house to find some other kid. Eventually I was convinced those loud stomping sounds were simply my own heartbeat thudding against my chest due to anxiety.
Once upon a time, I believed fairies lived in some woods nearby. I would go hunting for them during the day and find bits of clothing or dropped items near mushroom circles, which I assumed were the remains from unfortunate souls who did not know they were about to be claimed by the Fairy Queen and her servants. Eventually I was convinced the clothes and items were left there by vagrant homeless people who would sleep in the woods to avoid the local cops sweeping them up.
Once upon a time, I believed girls were completely smooth between their legs, like a Barbie, until the right person came along and touched them the right way to make the vagina magically open like the Cave of Wonders for Aladdin. I spent weeks trying to understand how exactly to touch a girl to make it open – this being well before the ease of the Internet, when I had only my Encyclopedia Britannica library to thumb through. Eventually a girl named Wendy took me behind a toy stove, removed her pants and underwear, and showed me the vagina was always there. Polite requests to see her maidenhood, not magical spells or words, were all that was required.
Once upon a time, I believed in the Christian God and His all-seeing eyes and His all-powerful hands. My godparents gave me a Bible and I devoured it in a week, from Genesis to Revelations. Eventually I realized that all the contradictions and impossibilities I found in the good book could not be explained beyond the rhetoric of “because the Bible says so.”
Once upon a time, I believed in tarot cards and Nordic runes foretelling futures and revealing the correct path for me to follow. I diligently sought the calming guidance and meditative peace that came from flipping cards into patterns or tossing stones by candlelight. Eventually I realized my own prejudices were simply leading me to interpret the message in a self-fulfilling prophecy and those who claimed expertise were motivated simply by keeping customers happy and returning for the vague advice.
Once upon a time, I believed in Destiny and the universe’s interest in having my life turn out a certain way. My feelings would lead me to random decisions which would either turn out beneficial to me and further convince me of Destiny’s hand or turn out disastrous and make me disappointed in myself for not listening correctly to the messages. Eventually I realized a nearly infinite universe has nearly an infinite possible outcomes and coincidence is a more likely explanation than any special quality I possessed or some controlling universal force driving events.
Once upon a time, I believed in love conquering all problems, and in the basic goodness of humanity, and in the possibility of immortality, and in the underdog overcoming overwhelming odds. I believed in Bigfoot, extraterrestrials, the Loch Ness monster, dragons, ghosts, compassionate conservatives, fiscally responsible progressives, unicorns (both literal and relationship metaphor), dragons, and an afterlife. I believed in friendships, promises, and giving. I believed I would be a father, a teacher, and an author.
Once upon a time, I believed in magic in all its forms.
Eventually the magic inside me died.
But the wonderful thing about magic is that anything is possible… including its own rebirth in an old man’s cynical heart.