On Magic and Impossibility

Or, “The good news and the bad news . . . .”

And, because I remain an eternal pragmatic optimist, I’m going to talk about the bad news first.

The Bad News

You need to realize a few things.

For example, that we (liberals in the midst of this Presidency) are expecting we can achieve the impossible. (How very, very American: hubristic AND stubbornly clinging to dreams.)

By “impossible,” what I mean is what no other human civilization has ever been able to do in the history of human civilizations. None survives everything. They all reach a peak and then fall way. They end. Through all sorts of dramas and traumas and combinations of circumstances that lead to the end of that thing. In fact, of everything that has ever lived on this Earth. Every plant. Every animal. Every very large group of those things.

They/we all die.

Then, in some other form, things come back and start the process all over again.

I am not saying that this Presidency is necessarily going to be the death of us. But it’s possible. Because that is what has happened over and over and over again in human history. And things are looking bizarre and dark enough to raise these questions. As in, “Will this be the time and place where this particular human civilization reaches its end point (and then another comes along eventually to replace it)?”

Is this where we are in the cycle?

It could be.

We don’t know.

We will try what we will try. And the historical facts (you can call this “fake news” if you don’t like it and don’t want to hear it and doing so makes you feel better) are that, at some point, the end comes.

Next . . . .


Yes, I am in fact shouting that. Because I am so tired of people either not reading what I actually say in my writing (understandably, because there is waaaaay too much news, discussion, information out there overloading all of our brains),or missing the subtlety of arguments because either triggers have been raised by use of certain words related to certain subjects, or because the aforementioned overload means people only read half (or even less) of the words in a piece.

Which brings me to my next bit of bad news that you need to realize:

When you expect that we are going to be able to survive, let alone somehow peacefully end, what is looking like its shaping up to be an authoritarian dictatorship, please realize we are not going to be doing it with the fullness of our minds and resources.

We are emotionally-taxed. Freaked-out. Angry. Scared. Wondering what is our next best move for politics, for our families, for making it through sanely.

Anyone who knows anything about the workings of the human brain knows that these are not optimal conditions for difficult situations.

When we need to be listening to each other and caring for each other and making plans and acting together, we are instead operating without those parts of our brains that let us most highly-function.

We act instead like reptiles and three-year-olds. We are flying off the handle in exhaustion, fear, hopelessness and defensiveness. Even and often most especially with the people we have, until now, loved the most.

And in the midst of all this . . . we still expect ourselves to have the intellectual capacity and emotional reserves to pull off what’s never happened before: to be the superheroes who will save a particular civilization.

By the way, we are also the people who cannot stay on our diets. Who don’t write the novels we know would make us feel better if we did. Who cannot make it to the gym consistently. Who try our hardest, and still fall down, every single day.

All of us.

Me, too.

And yet we are going to save a civilization and way of life. And we will yell at each other (our friends and our family, along with our “enemies”) at every instance we perceive people are not working hard enough, or in the right way, to save the world RIGHT NOW.


Give me a break.

Give yourself a break.

Give everyone a break.

Saving the world as you know it is, at the very least, very hard work. It might, in fact, be impossible. But what is the point in trying at all if you wreck yourself and everyone you love in the struggle?

The Good News

I still think it’s possible to save the world.

And by “it’s possible,” I mean that just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen some time. And I also mean that it is possible this Presidential mess can become, somehow, something different. A transformative experience that can raise us up to all kinds of new levels of being better people.

What keeps me able to operate with optimism while being fully cognizant of all the Bad News is Magic.

And by Magic, what I mean is the actual workings of Magic. Which I simply believe are workings of things that exist but that you yet don’t understand, and cannot yet wrap your brain around.

For one example: radio waves and radios.

I love and am heartened and fascinated by stories of the way that many people who did not understand how radio worked reacted to it. For instance, to the story of a very old man who told me about his very old grandma . . . who never was able to understand or trust the radio. How she could not get her brain to wrap around the fact that there WAS NOT a tiny human inside the box, singing. And how her head almost exploded the first time she heard a choir singing on the radio, because she could not understand how ALL of those tiny people fit inside the box.

How tiny they had to be!

Where is the magic?


We just don’t see it or understand yet how it works.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Or that it’s not going to help us.

Or isn’t already.

Maybe the radio is working somehow that we just don’t yet perceive.

Maybe the people who can perceive and harness it have just not done so yet.

That does not mean it will not happen soon enough.



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