The Magic Hat
I have a magic hat.
No rabbits, no handkerchiefs... but pure magic.
When I was 8, I got a magician's set for Christmas. It came with the usual items... and a plastic, black top hat. And since I'm a Skavnak, there was no way this hat was fitting on my dome.
So I put golf balls in it.
I didn't play golf at the time, but at Breezy Point (in Minnesota), I'd ride with my dad while he played. Instead, I searched for golf balls in the woods.
I found a lot of things in those woods... golf balls, bottles, trash, lymes disease (oh, wait, that was last year).
I'd put all the golf balls I found into the magic hat.
Then I'd sell them.
I was a Lil' Entrepreneur (terrible rap name).
I'd set up shop at the 8th hole at Breezy Point and sell golf balls 3 for a dollar out of the hat.
And for a little dude, making a few bucks was awesome.
But making money wasn't the magic.
A few years later, when I actually started to play a little golf, my dad and I would always take time to look for golf balls in the woods.
Some days, after dinner, we'd drive up to Edinburgh by my house, park in the corner of the lot and sneak our way across the fairway to the golden spot. (Remember the Bear in the Woods story? It happened there)
And again, I'd take the magic hat (and some more buckets) and sell golf balls. This time on the 8th hole at Edinburgh.
My 3 for a dollar changed to 2 for a dollar (Lil' Entrepreneur baby!) and I sold balls to the same guys week after week.
It even got to the point where if I saw them hit their ball into the water, I'd run down fast and grab it, then re-sell that same ball to them the next week.
I'd make trades with the beverage cart girls for snacks. I'd recognize my dad's friends. And some days, I'd even see my dad playing.
But seeing my dad play wasn't the magic. (Although it was pretty cool).
Selling golf balls ended after a few more years and the magic hat was forgotten.
Flash forward to 7 years ago....
My mom had just died and my dad was starting to clean out his house.
We had a toy room downstairs growing up where we stored every toy.
As we were going through the room, my dad opened a bin and pulled out the magic hat.
Holy swear word, we still had the magic hat.
We started talking about the times I sold golf balls out of the magic hat. How both he and mom used to drop me off on that 8th hole and pick me up hours later. We even talked about how freakishly big our heads were and how we would never have a chance of making it fit.
And we talked about mom. And golf. And fun stuff.
I didn't pull out a rabbit. I pulled out memories.
That plastic black hat was wonder and possibility.
It teleported me back to a time where happiness came from thinking and acting like a kid.
To a time where excitement came from the little things.
And it's alive today.
In my speaking, in my writing, and in my teaching.
But mostly in my camps.
And my students know it.
No, seriously, they really know it.
Because I still have the magic hat.
It's the prize hat.
And every kid freaks out when they know they're getting a pick out of the magic hat.
Then I freak out because I see the excitement, and wonder, and possibility in their eyes.
And that's the magic.