by Jessica Mastors
Witches know that we are constantly co-creating our reality, which means that the manifestation of our desired outcome often depends on forces beyond our control – including getting others to play nice with us.
But what happens when they refuse to play?
The following is a true story:
It’s 11 o’clock at night, and our groaning Greyhound bus has just pulled up to the only beacon of light for miles in either direction: the border crossing between upstate New York and the Canadian wilderness.
From my place in the back of the bus, next to the slightly sweet and occasionally foul smelling lavatory, I unbend my stiff legs for the first time in seven hours and join the shuffle for the parade past the border guards.
I am twenty-one years old, returning to Montreal for the umpteenth time in four years, and I am wearing striped pajama bottoms like the veteran I am.
But when I get to the front and hand my passport to the border guard, he ignores my cheerful “bon soir!” and looks up at me skeptically.
“Where is your study permit?” he demands in a clipped accent.
He is looking at the expired one, the one the Québécoise government inexplicably issues for three years rather than the four it takes for an American to graduate.
“Oh,” I say, “the renewal is being processed right now. I submitted the application a week ago, so it’s still pending.”
He frowns. “This expired months ago. You should have renewed it then.”
“I know, you’re right,” I say. “But I had so much going on. It just slipped my mind. I do apologize.”
After a moment, with a stone-face that barely conceals his contempt, he replies:
“Unfortunately we have no choice but to ban you from Canada for one year.”
“What?” I gasp, dumbfounded.
“You Americans think you can pick and choose which of our rules to follow,” he sneers through his stone face. “You think the consequences do not apply to you. Students who came weeks before you have been told the same thing.”
“Yes, but… I’m so close to being done! I only have 9 credits left to finish my whole degree!”
“You will have to return in one year to complete them.”
At these words, my brain flashes an error message: “DOES NOT COMPUTE.” I simply can’t imagine any other outcome than getting him to let me through.
“But,” I stammer as my heart sinks into my stomach, “you don’t understand. You have no idea what was going on.”
He raises his chin and crosses his arms defiantly. “What could have possibly prevented you?”
His hard little eyes are daring me to come up with an excuse he will believe in.
And so I do what I have to:
I reach down inside myself and pull out the peculiar story of heartbreak and confusion that had blinded me for months to all practical living concerns.
I tell him that the man I’d been in love with, who had gone West to pursue his dreams and gradually broken my heart, had suffered a “psychotic break with reality” and that his mother, whom I had never met, had emailed me out of the blue to ask if I had any idea what could have triggered it.
That when he got out of the hospital, he started emailing me about the secret thoughts he was having, images of knives and impulses to hurt the people closest to him.
That every day I wondered if I should go to him, if I was somehow to blame, if he would ever get better, if we were secretly meant to be.
That every day, I was consumed by the question of what it could mean that the universe, which I had always believed to be so kind, could let something like this happen to someone so precious.
When I look up, the stone face has softened enough to show the human underneath.
“Please,” I say through my tears, “I know I was wrong to forget the permit. But I have to ask for your understanding as a human being.”
He gazes at me; perhaps recalling his own experience of heartbreak and doubt as a young person. Then he gets up, walks to the back, and returns with several forms.
In the end, I have to pay for a rushed temporary permit, in addition to the one that’s being processed, which ends up being about $500 – but it’s worth it not to have to wake my parents up at 1am and tell them I’ve been banned from Canada, and can they please drive seven hours to come pick me up?
I didn’t know it that night almost a decade ago, but I can tell you now that what got me past that gatekeeper is not the fact that I cried; but the fact that I shared with him the story behind my tears – one that lifted the veil from my true self, showed him that I am not just another cocky American, and answered the eternal question: “Why?”
Why should I help YOU? Why should YOU get to break the rules when everyone else has to play by them?Why should YOU have everything you want, when everyone else has been told NO?
I tell you this story to demonstrate how magical storytelling is for its inherent ability to touch hearts and “change consciousness at will.”
Precisely because the human brain is hardwired for it, story allows you to bypass the rational critic and go straight for the heart-guts in anyone; which, as any witch worth her sea salt knows, is the seat of all human decision-making – muggle and magical alike.
The next time you find your intentions blocked by a stubborn rule-abiding muggle, I urge you to take a chance and tell a story that makes them forget their role as a gatekeeper and remember their human hunger for meaning – just to see if it doesn’t change everything.
About the Author:
Jessica Mastors is a storyteller and coach, creative maker and businesswoman, free-thinker and troublemaker, and firm believer that “rules are for other people.” Her mission is to help women who dare to build meaningful movements excavate, craft and deliver the true stories that transform others into inspired fans, followers and funders. If you want to grow your magical powers of story, or just receive a new story every Sunday, visit her website and claim your free gift of 7 Secrets to StoryMagic.
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