When magic comes calling

“Life is a drag most of the time–birth, school, work, death…. I wish something magic would happen.” –Aiden, “Blood and Chocolate” by A.C. Klause

I’ll be honest. I’ve never been big on the concept of faith. Faith has always struck me as the kind of thing people want you to have when they’re trying to persuade you to do or believe something and they got nothing to back themselves up.

“Have faith.”

There’s another use of the word, as in “I’ve got faith in you”. This is usually something we say to people we know quite well. But in those cases, we’ve got lots of experience with that person to back up our trust in them, and let’s face it, we really mean “trust” in that situation, which is another concept altogether.

“I trust you.”
Well, of course you do. I’m trust-worthy.

“Faith” is that thing where we put trust in the validity of concepts we have no reason to put trust in, except perhaps we believe that the sources that tell us these concepts are real come from God or some other supernatural force we might trust, but then again… trust on what basis?

OK, so I’m not big on faith of things unseen. This doesn’t make me a hard-headed rationalist or Scully on X-Files demanding proof of everything and rejecting any so-called “proof” she can’t understand in purely physical terms. Far from it. I am Mulder. OK, a Mulder wanna-be. I want to believe.

I want the magical and the mystical and fantastic to exist. But not in legends and tabloid headlines and the word of those who claim to have experienced these things I have never seen. I want the fantastic to come knock on my door and sit down on my couch and talk to me.

I want a universe filled with magic. With wonder. With things beyond current science’s pale facts, and yet not in contradiction to a science that has wisdom.

So far, however, such things have only come to me in fictional forms. Books, movies, television. I eat all that stuff for breakfast and beg for more.

At least that’s what I say I want. What I long for.

“His world had changed. Now shadows would always take on threatening shapes.”

But what if magic did come knocking? Would I be ready for it? Would I run from it? Would I long for my normal little bland life to return? It’s a good question. I hope I wouldn’t. In the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Xander come face to face with the fantastic, and freak out for about a minute, then shrug their shoulders and dive right in.

Would I?

10 thoughts on “When magic comes calling

  1. I’ve got Faith! See my icon! Hee 😉
    I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. I actually kinda agree with your statement: “Faith has always struck me as the kind of thing people want you to have when they’re trying to persuade you to do or believe something and they got nothing to back themselves up.”
    I’m still hung-up on the issue of marriage. On one hand, I believe in equality and a society free of discrimination; on the other hand, I believe the Bible is God’s word and not something to be obeyed only when it’s convenient.
    I had an interesting chat with my pastor on Sunday about gay marriage. When I questioned why gays couldn’t get married (in the eyes of the church), he reminded me of Genesis: God putting together one man and one woman, being fruitful and multiplying. For him, it’s an issue of definition. He thinks the word, and institution of, “marriage” should be reserved for one man/one woman. He also thinks that gays not being able to “marry” is incredibly unfair and painful.
    But if you’re a gay Christian, he says, it’s about doing what God commands, and accepting that what he commands is right and good for you, even if you can’t totally “grok” it. That life is unfair and painful, and lots of hetero people don’t find life-partners either, and maybe we’re all (and I do sometimes include myself in this group) being called to lead celibate, single lives. Not a fun prospect, but perhaps one that will be purpose-driven and fulfilling. (And hopefully more fun than I expected.)
    But perhaps faith is like, even if you don’t grok a commandment like “gays can’t marry”, you do grok God. And if you trust the source, like you said, then it’s easy to trust what he tells you even when you don’t understand.
    Of course, the downside is that you can’t/don’t always grok God either. I don’t, at least. Most of my Christian friends don’t either. But I can see it, sense it, when they do. When I do. I’ve had a few (less than a handful) of what you could call “spiritual” experiences. Like one time when I was still in high school, I was praying in my room one night and the air felt still and everything just seemed to hush. Like God was standing right over me, and if I turned my head just a bit, I would see something beautiful and radiant. I felt so loved. So cherished. It was an incredible moment — and not easy to describe! Anyway, if I could feel God like that all the time, have that magic touch me, I’d probably have an easier time “having faith”.
    But what if magic did come knocking? Would I be ready for it? Would I run from it? Would I long for my normal little bland life to return? It’s a good question.
    I realise my ramble didn’t really address the kind of magic you were talking about, so if you want me to move it over to my own LJ, I can do that 🙂 But I guess your post reminded me how much I take my own faith for granted. Cuz it is magical and epic and wonderfully fantastical. And sometimes it’s like the cosmos is swirling and dancing in jubilation and sometimes it’s like writing an essay and nailing all your points. That sense of clarity. And I often forget all that when I’m bogged down by ethical/moral quandaries that seem irreconcilable by my own limited understanding.
    Heh. Just my $0.02 🙂

  2. Finding the Magic
    But what if magic did come knocking? Would I be ready for it? Would I run from it? Would I long for my normal little bland life to return? It’s a good question.
    I’d like to think you be ready. I’d like to think I would be, too, but I’m not sure. I know I was incredibly disappointed that there wasn’t any magic or mystery associated with the time I spent unconscious after the aneurysm, and during the surgery. No Near-Death-Experiences for me; mainly just a totally black, out-like-a-light, dreamless experience. The only magic came from the post-surgical morphine, LOL!
    That experience really made me question a lot of my “hopeful” assumptions about reality and metaphysics. I had a game-plan I was going with, and it really got shook up. But then, along came ATPoBtVS and the Book Melee, which got me back on track. I certainly would never have found Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destination” otherwise, and would never have read the words that have become my personal motto since reading it: It isn’t necessary to have something to believe in. It’s only necessary to believe that somewhere there’s something worthy of belief.

  3. Your life sounds like my life
    All those fantastic experiences people report never seem to happen to me. So I’m kind of stuck between cynicism based on experience and hopefullness based on desire, and based on the happiness I find in fictional fantasies. I feel at home in the Buffyverse, and I always wonder why that is, given what a scientific-minded cynic I can be most of the time. ; )

  4. Re: I’ve got Faith! See my icon! Hee 😉
    Sorry, but before I believe that gay marraige isn’t divine intent, God is going to have to come down and tell me that him/herself, ’cause I’m not going to go purely on the word of a wise but fallible document written by divinely inspired but fallible human beings.

  5. Um, sorry Masq
    Now I feel really silly for posting that long ramble in your LJ 😦 I feel kinda like I rained on your parade and took the focus off of what you were really trying to say, ie magic and fantasy touching RL.
    As for magic mixing with real life, I’ve always loved how “The Secret Garden” talked about LIFE as if it were something magical and almost sentient. As if it were some force you could influence, and one that could influence you in return. They called it Magic. The flowers were “quick” with life.

  6. Two replies, one post!
    I had an interesting chat with my pastor on Sunday about gay marriage. When I questioned why gays couldn’t get married (in the eyes of the church)
    That’s the thing though – no one is suggesting that any church recognize gay marriage. Except for those wacky Unitarians it would be a waste of time, large religious institutions are naturally slow and resistant to change. Look how long it took the Catholic Church to admit that the Inquisition was a bad idea and that Galileo may have been on to something.
    Rather the issue up here in fair Canada is about the legal definition of marriage and as such is a purely secular issue. Denying someone the benefits that come with a particular legal status because of their orientation is against the Charter, and regardless of the outcome of the vote on the proposed changes there will have to be a new definition of civil marriage that includes same sex – the Supreme Court hath spoken. The churches, temples, mosques, whatever can let whoever they want get married within their hallowed halls but when it comes to civil ceremonies they should mind their own frellin business.
    Onto the magic question 😉
    Masq, your post reminded me of that Bloom County cartoon where a knight comes riding out of Binkley’s closet and offers to take him away to a magical land. Binkley refuses because he has a report on snails due for school the next day.
    I wonder too if I would go for the snails, especially as I get older and start to value comfort over experience. Maybe magic doesn’t really come for us in the grand gestures but in the little things. The way a song can suddenly overwhelm us with emotion, a book open up a new world inside our heads, a tv show give us such a rush of possibility. Today I was inordinately pleased with myself for writing a 45 second promo about a dog eating homework. It wasn’t even that good, but I had made something out of nothing. Magic.
    Faith is a leap. And it’s not taken because one is sure of the outcome but because sometimes we need to step outside our experience, admit that there is more out there than our brains can comprehend.

  7. Re: Your life sounds like my life
    I think there’s a kind of magic in some of the things you do, Masq. But that’s easier for others to see than you.
    The Whys always prelude the toughest questions. 😉

  8. I think this is why I’m so attracted to the fantasy genre and (to be sappy) romances. It’s the idea that someday, something miraculous could just happen, like love or finding you’re the heir to some kingdom or speaking with dragons, that appeals to me enormously. I think somehow I’ve managed to justify it to myself by saying that my life is miraculous, and that everyone’s life is miraculous and magical and wonderful. I forget who… probably Gaiman, had a quote somewhere that said everyone has worlds inside them if you just know where to look.
    Kind of a digression…

  9. Oooh
    “…everyone has worlds inside them if you just know where to look.”
    I like that. And for those of us who are novelists, these worlds get a chance to come alive.

  10. Re: Two replies, one post!
    What I’m looking for could be a little thing. Or a big thing. Either way, what I’m asking for is something that would shake the foundations of my belief system and force me to adopt a new one. Not because I chose to, not because I want to, but because I cannot deny the evidence of my senses.
    And that’s what I mean by magic.

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