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Our group’s topic today got off to a difficult start as far as I was concerned, but the folks were having such a good time discussing magic and risk that I sat mute and didn’t disturb the fun. My first thoughts on the word risk, human risk that is, immediately go to real risks of death, and that for these modern Americans would be cardiovascular disease, cancer, and lung problems. Those few risks would cover fifty percent of American deaths. In two hours of conversation none of these current risks were mentioned. I also thought about the risks of death in 1900 when these mostly older people’s parents were young; the top four causes of death were infectious diseases—pneumonia, flu, tuberculosis and diphtheria. There were lots of other deadly diseases rampant too, back then, but the risks presented by these diseases were ignored in the discussion of risk. My New Year’s resolution many years ago was, “When it comes to risk the goal is not to be smart but to avoid being stupid.”

Risks were being discussed and analyzed in terms of personal feelings, such as the risk of being invisible to others and thus being ignored. Risks of exposing one’s self, and having other people think badly of you, and realizing that’s it, I’ve got nothing more, and therefore legitimately hiding my true self. Another risk was from the emotional traumas of encountering potentially criminal people. Risks from bad relationships with people, with one’s self and the environment in general.

Some spoke of the joy of taking risks, such as skiing, parachuting, river rafting, and motorcycling, where the risk is not being in complete control of the ongoing dangerous events. People in the group told about doing dangerous things and losing, and thus ending up in the hospital. I wondered how many people would have been at our meeting but weren’t because they got killed? I didn’t bring up these unpleasant possibilities because it would have been depressing. It is much better for people to be emotionally expansive, because when they are they can look at their options, but when depressed they can’t; they are locked into a rigid hanging-on state of mind. My problem was, how does one bring up the inherently unpleasant subject of real risk without bring on a fearful mind set, and thus ruining the expansive mood needed for exploring options?

There was some discussion of magical events in various people’s lives, and there were a few stories of unusual things. Some rational thought was brought forward with the idea that magic is normal physical reality; it’s just that the magicians’ code is not to reveal the techniques that permit them to bring about their magical illusions. But that idea did the dead-cat bounce, and the conversation moved on to more exciting things. Obviously lying to people as a stage act, as magicians do, is fine, but performances put on by fancy-dressed people claiming real legitimate powers given from supernatural sources are the purest kind of fraud. Sadly, that kind of magic is what brings in people and, more importantly, their money.

There were several references to pure natural magic, the creation and birth of new human beings, and the fact that we are here, and that we have some degree of free will. Natural reality looks like magic, but if you observe it closely it is natural; when you look at supernatural magic it by definition isn’t natural, and can’t be explained.

I enjoy these interactions and love these people, and I watch and listen to them,  carefully seeking ways to help them see their own thoughts clearly and make wise decisions. Unfortunately, people listen when I talk about my relationship with Samumpsycle, a concrete garden gnome, but when I talk about real-world statistics they don’t.

When thinking and talking about really big things people prefer the supernatural explanations.