Dumbo — On Talismans

Remember the animated film, Dumbo? I do. I remember watching it on TV as a kid. I was probably snuggled in on the couch with my parents, my sister, and likely our dog named Boo. I also remember watching Dumbo with my kids. Particularly my two oldest, who are now 19 and 17 respectively. Again snuggled in on a couch. Dumbo with his giant ears. The other elephants made fun of him. Dumbo was sad. It turns out Dumbo, the mean nickname that the others gave him replacing Jumbo Jr., could fly. That film came out in 1941, 74 years ago, which kind of wows me.

As I remember, Dumbo’s mouse friend Timothy gives Dumbo a feather and proclaims it to be magic. He gives it to Dumbo when Dumbo is doubting his ability to fly. The short of it is that it works. Dumbo believes it. Flies. Is shocked and afraid to fly without the feather. Gets over that fear. Saves his mom. Even acts out a bit of revenge shooting peanuts at the mean elephants. Earns the respect of the other elephants and animals.

One of the aspects that I remember from the movie, and that wows me still today, was Dumbo’s magic feather. The feather was what I would call a talisman. Some might relate to it as a good-luck charm. Regardless, the talisman is enough to convince Dumbo of an ability that he already has. He can fly with those big ears. He just doest fully know it in himself. The talisman convinces him of an internal, inherent ability. It is a kind of placebo.

These kind of talismans are very much a part of my life. If not to improve an ability, to hold a memory just a bit closer than it would otherwise be. I often carry a small stone in my pocket to remind me of a person, or sometimes a place. One from a coastline on Whidbey Island in the US Northwest reminds me of powerful meetings that I’ve had with colleagues on that island. The stone brings back the feeling of friendship, colleagueship, and soulful collaboration — and invokes it in the present moment. Another talisman, also a stone, is from Greece. It reminds me of the Dad / Daughter trip I took two years ago with my now 19 year-old daughter. That stone brings back the Kastri Beach in a heartbeat, the feel of the sun, the beauty of the water, and the deep love I feel for adventure with my daughter. It brings family and adventure into the present.

Talismans like this may be made up, creating an attractive make-believe — that is one purpose. Yet they still invoke an emotional state. Arguably a alternative time reality, a kind of transportation to that physical time. Talismans bend time. They can bend reality also, which, in the end, perhaps is meant to be bent.

All of this from Dumbo and his friend Timothy. More later.

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