My family has had a bad year. My grandma died almost a year ago of a stroke (and believe me, it only feels like three months. When my brother told me it was closing in on a year I was dumbstruck). My uncle died in a house fire about six months ago, trapped inside, unable to get out.
Now my uncle Dan is not doing very well. Sclerosis of the liver was bad enough, but a stomach infection has now become something worse. I don’t want to think about the details, or the frail state of his health. He’s in a medically induced coma and things don’t look good.
I wanted to pray, but I couldn’t. It was pointless. I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe in God in any meaningful way. The effort put into prayer feels not only wasted, but misdirected. But I wanted to do something. Anything.
Before I left for work, I erased what was on my blackboard and wrote:
Because so many cared for him, Dan made a steady and surprisingly quick recovery before David had to go back to Papua New Guinea and Elaine back to Alberta.
I’m a writer. Writing, as any writer can tell you, is magic.
This is a spell.
I didn’t think too much about doing it. I just did it. It felt like (and looked like) a five year old had done it. I did it because it’s the only thing I feel I have any control over at all. Words. I shape worlds and people with them, hold their make-believe lives in my hands. When people read a story of mine, those characters (hopefully) come to life. Like I said, it’s a kind of magic.
Like all magic, it’s a trick. The magician knows he’s a fraud. I know my spell can’t work. But the audience doesn’t know this. They believe. So I picture myself convincing someone about the power of projecting one’s will on the future through words, finding someone who feels so down they are willing to believe anything. Maybe I think I’m using psychology to make them feel better. But this person really believes. And later they teach someone else the trick, so both teacher and student thinks it works…
I think this really isn’t that far off from magic circles, holy rituals, and spellcraft in general. Dress it up however you like. Some people pray to God, some write their wishes on paper and tie them to trees…
And some write their prayers on a blackboard like a story, take a step back, and realize the spell isn’t complete. If a prayer is a wish for what you want to have happen, it was missing something. As selfish as it was, I needed something for myself.
Because so many cared for him, Dan made a steady and surprisingly quick recovery before David had to go back to Papua New Guinea and Elaine back to Alberta. Noah was happy.