When I was a kid, a girl was either pretty but stupid, or smart but not-so-attractive. While there is absolutely no truth in that, it was believed by the masses and thus, “true.” I was undeniably pretty; so, by such standards, undeniably stupid. I didn’t feel stupid. Not all at once. But the truth of the masses, perpetuated by the practices of elementary and middle school*, wore me down. By high school, I was a bonafide ditz. Or so I thought.
*Rarely called on in class or praised for right answers, encouraged to take classes like steno and typing rather than science or math. Etc. Those of you in my age-range will know the drill.
It took a huge amount of work to get past all the crap ingrained in me from the day I was born–and this is not a dig against my parents, but society at large. Women of a certain age and older, maybe a little younger, will understand. Some will never get away from the whole “girls aren’t as smart as boys” thing, and all the other stuff girls were or weren’t. I worked hard, and I did it, but it left scars. One of them is being a huge skeptic.
There. I said it. I’m a skeptic. I realize I present as the sort of whimsical being who believes in fairies and ghosts and magic and all kinds of psychic/superhero powers.
But I do.
Because I am a whimsical being. There is magic/ghosts in everything I write. Tooth fairies lived in my rose garden. All the neighborhood kids knew that. We left bread and butter out for the fae folk at key points in the year, read the story of Persephone, Demeter and Hades every autumnal equinox, decorated the trees for the animals at the winter solstice. The kids were taught to never step inside a fairy ring. I made herbal “potions” everyone swore by, and spoke charms while I crafted them. The kids and I made dream pillows every autumn (something I still do, though more sporadically, with my grandkids.)
But I also knew it was the crows eating the bread and butter (the crows in the neighborhood loved me. It’s true! I fed them daily, and ours was the ONLY garbage can on the block that never got torn apart.) I don’t believe in Gods, or Goddesses. I do believe there are some plusses to herbal healing, but the spoken charms were fun wishes akin to those made on birthday candles. And the tooth fairies? Well, I confess now to all those children who left notes for their fairies in my rose garden, I was the one answering them; tooth fairies did not, in fact, live in my garden.
But I don’t NOT believe in any of it, either. Because…who knows?
Round and round she goes. The skeptic comes from never-ever-ever again wanting to feel or appear stupid. I spent too many years negating my own talents, thoughts, and aspirations. Skeptic has a place in my brainspace, because there’s believing in everything with blind faith and utter devotion, and there’s, “Now wait just a minute there, Janet.”
There is a whole lot about our world, our universe we just don’t know; modesty may be for suckers, but no one can ever accuse me of hubris. I discount nothing, not even fairies. I just need proof before I’ll truly believe they’re real. I know where my skeptic was born, and as much as I understand she’s yet another aspect of the scarring done to my little psyche, (and my not-so-little one) her place is to be respected.
I can be whimsically skeptical, or skeptically whimsical. I can take part in a cleansing, burning ritual on the beach and feel the beauty, the bonding without the need of specific oils and herbs. I can watch my words go up in smoke, and know it’s speaking them aloud that eased the burden, not burning them. I love to read cards (I have several decks) because of how it makes me think, it creates connections I might not otherwise have noticed. I enjoy listening to a psychic tell me all about auras and chakras and speaking to the dead while picking out the holes in her reasoning. I can dream of my son and feel it was more like visit; feel it, but not know it, because what happens after we die is a mystery no one, not even those who’ve died and come back, knows for sure. And I’m okay with that. I like how those dream visits sit in my heart, in my brain. That’s enough. I like imagining it’s fairies eating the bread and butter, even if I know it’s the crows. I like paying attention. To everything.
What I believe or don’t believe doesn’t matter even slightly where the actual truth is concerned. I believed I was stupid. Society saw my pretty and believed the same. But you know what? My mom saved my report cards, and she gave them to me a few years ago. I was mostly an A/B student all through high school. I spoke four languages. It was confidence I lacked, not intelligence. Though, I do admit math was never my strong suit; I was also never encouraged to it, so…yeah. I get a pass.
There you have it. I’m a skeptic who writes about ghosts but doesn’t necessarily believe in an afterlife. Now, pardon me while I go write my story about how Death collects souls in a mason jar. In my pajamas. Where’d I put that tiara? I guess the fairies must have run off with it. They do that, sometimes.