In the film The Wizard of Oz, after a tornado has lifted her house into the air and set it down again, Dorothy steps outside to survey the damage.
As she observes the rolling hills, the fantastic buildings, the yellow brick road, the munchkins, she begins to realize that something has changed. She tells her little dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. We must be over the rainbow!”
As a child, watching this film on a black-and-white TV, I found myself almost as puzzled and amazed as Dorothy. (Little did I know that from the moment Dorothy arrived in Oz, the film went from black-and-white to glorious Technicolor, which might have given me a hint.)
One of the most useful questions I’ve encountered as a psychotherapist provides a way to have a “We’re not in Kansas” moment in our own lives.
It’s the question that helps each member of the Artists for Artists group envision their ideal creative lives, and it guides us from our personal Kansas to our personal Oz, and back again to a new, improved version of that Kansas, one in which our creative goals are realized. Like Dorothy, we have fellow travelers to help us on our journey.
This magic question is called the Miracle Question, and it goes like this:
After this meeting, you go off and do whatever you do with the rest of the day. Tonight, you fall asleep. And while you’re asleep, a strange thing happens. The strange thing is that… a miracle occurs! The miracle is a very special one, just to you. The miracle is that all the problems and concerns you have in your creative life are solved. But because the miracle happened while you were asleep, you don’t know anything about it.
When you wake up tomorrow, you are in the world of the miracle, 24/7, but initially you are unaware that it has occurred. So the first question is: Tomorrow morning, when you wake up and as you go through the day, what do you notice – in yourself, in your surroundings, in other people – that eventually gets you scratching your head, thinking, “Something’s different about today. A miracle must have happened!”
You’re looking for that “I’m not in my old life anymore” realization, like when Dorothy realizes she’s not in Kansas anymore.
As you answer this question, you gradually come to see that this day is something new, something better, something that feels miraculous—but is also attainable.
Then you work toward that “miracle,” one step at a time.
Some helpful questions to ask, after asking the Miracle Question:
- How do I feel when I open my eyes on the first morning of my miracle life?
- Am I in the same bedroom? The same house? With the same people?
- What’s different as I get ready for the day?
- What’s different as I walk through it, hour by hour?
- What do other people in my life notice about me that’s different?
- What do I notice about them?
Steps to follow after asking the Miracle Question:
- Scaling. What pieces of the miracle are already part of your life? Name a number on a scale of 1–10, where “1” is how things were when they were as far away from the miracle as they have ever been in your adult life, and “10” is you’re living the miracle 24/7. This number is where your Miracle Question journey begins.
- Experimenting. Choose an Experiment that you believe will move you closer to the miracle. The best Experiment is something you really want to do, even if you feel some anxiety or you’ve been procrastinating. Commit to doing the Experiment in the next week
- Re-evaluating. Did you do the Experiment? If so, how much did it advance your “miracle” score? If you didn’t, why not? Did something get in the way? Or did you do something else that advanced your score, instead?
- Repeating. Create a new Experiment, and, a week later, evaluate how that went. Repeat this process until you create the miracle you imagined. Then, if there’s more you’d like to accomplish, ask the question again.
I invite you to participate in this Miracle Question process.
You can respond with your Miracle Question answer in a comment on the blog–or, even better, join a new Facebook group, Cultivating Creativity, and respond there.
I’m hoping this group will become a global version of the Artists for Artists group I’ve been part of for the last four years. You can join it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cultivate.creativity/
Once I have a quorum of Facebook group members, I’ll start actively guiding that process, not as The Wizard, but as a fellow traveler.
More soon, and looking forward to your Miracles –
Copyright 2018, David J. Bookbinder
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4 thoughts on “
Follow Your Yellow Brick Road”
The idea of a dream not fully recovered, but fully imagined comes to me from this, whether it is exactly what you mean or not. Very appealing and useful.
Sometimes the dream is an old one, resuscitated, but often answering the Miracle Question results in a new, detailed, and current dream that is fully realizable, a step at a time. It’s a remarkable question, one I wish I’d invented!
Thanks, Davida. I remember that workshop well, and I’m glad it got you jump-started.
I would like to share the experience I had with the Miracle Question, when I was in David’s Artists’ Group a few years ago: I had been experiencing a writing block for about two years, and felt badly stuck. In the first session, the Miracle Question was posed, but it was a bit different then. The idea was that just before bed that night, I was to imagine a scenario where I visualized myself getting up in the morning and making a beeline for my computer, where I would start writing. No subject was suggested, just that I should follow that scenario. Feeling a bit foolish, I did exactly that that night, just before bed. The next morning upon getting out of bed, I found myself making a beeline for my study, where I started to write without even thinking. It became the last part of my memoir, on which I had been working before the block. It truly felt like a miracle. Whether it was or not, I have published three books since then and am now thinking about the next one. If it doesn’t come easily, I’ll try for that miracle again.