“I wanted to find a magical portal. I wanted to fall into a magical world. When I opened a closet, I wanted to feel a chill and find snow falling behind the coats. When I opened my front door, I wanted to see a yellow brick road winding off towards the Emerald City…You can guess what happened: nothing. “Bruce Handy, A Velocity of Being
I’ve always been practical, and pragmatic. I’ve always been realistic, even as a kid. But, there was one magical portal I believed in. One magical portal that I spent most of my life searching for, but never found: It was ‘someday’. It was “one-day’. It was the future.
Someday I was going to be somebody. One day I was going to make something of myself. My future was bright. My future was full of purpose. My future was inevitable. Someday it was all going to come together. One day it would all work out. You can guess what happened: nothing. One day never arrived. Someday never showed up. Time kept moving forward, but my future never followed suit.
We all believe in secret entrances, miracles, and magic portals. We just argue over semantics. “You could call it a trap door, a hidden compartment, or you could call it God,” says Chloe Benjamin. We’re all believers in one way or another. We all worship something, David Foster Wallace suggests. So, “Is it that reality is too much, “asks Benjamin, “too painful, too limited, too restrictive of joy, or opportunity?” Or, as Benjamin goes on to say, is it that “reality is not enough”? She suggests that it isn’t, and I’m inclined to agree. It isn’t enough. It isn’t “enough to explain what we don’t understand”, or “to account for the inconsistencies we see, hear, and feel.” It isn’t enough “on which to pin our hopes, our dreams, our faith.” Maybe that’s why we need faith, why we need hope, why we need love. Maybe that’s not only why we believe, but why we need to. Maybe that’s precisely why we need to believe in magic.
“Some magicians say that magic shatters your world view”, Benjamin points out.” But, “magic”, as she supposes, is what “holds the world together”. “It’s the glue of reality,” she surmises. “And, it takes magic”, she concludes, “to reveal how inadequate reality is.”
I believe in the profound inadequacies of reality as we know it. I have seen, and felt, and experienced how anemic reality can be. How insufficient it is at providing us with sustenance enough to do anything other than merely survive. We live on rations; caged with the lack, tied to the want, present to the absence, never sated, never full, always and at all times hungry. But, as much as I still want to stand behind it, magic, has proven to be just as unreliable, and its becoming harder and harder to maintain a faith in anything even remotely magical.
Maybe magic failed me one too many times. Maybe reality starved and suffocated my sense of wonder. Maybe its a muscle that’s atrophied and I’m just too stiff and too tired to bend or stretch. But I want to. I still want to believe in the magic of hidden passageways that lead to mystifying futures and unimaginable somedays. I want to believe in magic shoes that can take me anywhere. I want to believe that the long black veil of bereavement could be transformed into a dove, even if only by slight of hand or a trick of the light.
There’s a story in the Gospel of Mark. A desperate father begs Jesus to heal his son. Jesus tells him that “All things are possible for one who believes”. The father responds with urgency saying “I believe; help my unbelief.” This is the truest prayer I know, and the most honest one I can say. And so I pray it every day…I believe that one day, everything will be ok, maybe even better, but help my unbelief…