As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff.

The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled how you are about to be fooled. They might say “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…” and give you a sense of where the magic is going to happen. They hint at it. The general rule is that you don’t want your magic to be anything completely unexpected.

Surprises undo us. Most of us dislike being completely fooled. We don’t mind if a spoon bends, and we don’t mind if the signed card is now in a wallet — as long as we were somewhat expecting that to happen. We are comfortable with our expectations being messed with as long as we are expecting our expectations to be messed with. We do not like when things happen far outside our expectations.

The recent election of Donald Trump was outside of the expectations of a majority of Americans and many people throughout the world.

We don’t like to be fooled.

We don’t like the world to be other than how we want or expect it.

We dislike it a lot. We really don’t like the world not to conform to what we expect.

We ask the doctor, “Will this hurt?” We ask people who have been down the road before us, “What’s it like?” We seek all types of counsel to help us control, predict, and prepare for the future.

That’s what this newsletter is about. With regard to the spiritual-religious aspects of life, I help you make some better sense of this world. And, I push you, gently and with love, towards making it a better place.

You might remember an article I wrote about observation bias and how it might be keeping God out of your life – no matter what your understanding of the word gee-oh-dee is. Observation bias underscores this notion that we tend to see the world as we think we will see the world.  For example, if you are a teacher and you think a student in your classroom is “trouble,” you will see countless examples of that child misbehaving. If you think a friend is rude and  interrupts the flow of conversation, you will see that happen.

 

You should literally be astounded to realize that what you expect to see is almost synonymous with what you see.

 

What is it in your own world that you want to see?

Do you expect, like Eeyore, to see the world as bleak? Or do you expect, like Pollyanna, to see that the world is wonderful?

I awoke the other day with a quote by Martha Beck in my mind: “The repercussions of one person living in stubborn gladness are incalculable.” I was struck by the word “stubborn” and decided to spend the day in stubborn gladness – and it was a good thing I did, because the day started with news that caused us to scramble our plans so one of us could make it to a spontaneous protest.

If you want to see more love in the world, start looking for more love in the world, and you’ll see more love in the world.  If you expect to encounter wondrous things, there’s a much greater chance you are going to see wondrous things. If you are expecting to see a beautiful world, a beautiful world can be seen.  

Perhaps the universe doesn’t want to fool you too hard by making the universe anything other than what you expect. That’s how good magic tricks work anyway.

 

Hammock a Mistake

Hammock a Mistake

Rabbi Brian talks about the mistake he made in getting a hammock and how OBVIOUS mistakes are in retrospect – and how natural they feel when we are doing them.

Mourning. Memories. Blessings.

Mourning. Memories. Blessings.

Mourning. Memories. Blessings. Aaron Panken was the rabbi at my home synagogue when I graduated from Tufts University. He jumped me through the hoops necessary to get into rabbinical school.  He died. Suddenly, in a plane crash. I am shaken, thrown off. Confused. When...

Authorized, or not?

Authorized, or not?

Clown-walking with fins After scuba diving for the first time around the age of 15, I became a bit of an aficionado. Consequently, when I was vacationing and saw a friend in snorkeling gear, walking, horribly awkwardly, towards the water with fins on, I called out,...

Acceptance: better get used to it.

Acceptance: better get used to it.

Michelle is driving me back to her house, where I left my car. We just had a lovely dinner. Conversation with her just flows; she is one of my no-filter-required friends. The 84-Freeway here in Portland is doing its impression of Los Angeles traffic. The right lane is...