“Do you believe in magic, in a young girl’s heart?”
— The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Do You Believe In Magic” (1965)
Yes, I do. I also believe in magic in an old man’s heart, and in the heart of a 20something who often wonders if there’s anyone out there who really cares about her blog. True, the subject matter of the song, if you really listen to the lyrics, refers to the magic that exists in music, and that’s not what I’m talking about here, but the reason I chose that lyric, that song, is because it’s featured during the credits of Disney’s Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland, and always resonated with me because of that. The plot of the movie is that Wendy’s daughter Jane learns that faith, trust, and pixie dust are more than just elements of the stories her mother told her. Jane learns to believe in magic, and maybe that’s the point of the stories of Peter Pan: to teach children and to remind adults that magic is more than just an idea. If you believe, it’s real.
Unfortunately, the reason none of us received letters from Hogwarts when we turned 11 is that Hogwarts isn’t real, and neither is Harry Potter, nor the kind of magic that involves cauldrons and spellwork and wands. Most disappointing, I know; but I’ve recently come up for air after several weeks spent buried in the world of Harry Potter, and since it had been so many years since I’d read the books, rereading them was like experiencing all of it for the first time again. I laughed, and I cried, and I experienced suspense and exhilaration and frustration, because I lost myself in the magic that exists between the pages of those books. Not just the magic that involves spellwork and wands, but simply the magic that is contained within a very good story.
I think I create my own magic. I also think sometimes I have to go looking for it, and I think that oftentimes it exists where I wasn’t looking at all.
I have this beautiful, perfect memory of a moment when I was 12 or 13, and I was in Huntsville, at sleep-away camp with the rest of the junior high—a grand total of about sixty students. Forest Glen is an awesome place, especially in the fall, and it was November. It must have been a clear day, sunny, and I was outside by the lake with my group members for the fishing activity, on the wooden bridge that crosses from the mainland to a small island that is part of the camp. It was probably cold, so I would have been bundled up, and I sat on the edge of the bridge, with my legs dangling over the water and a fishing pole propped up against the wooden railing in front of me. I faced away from the open expanse of lake, toward the narrower stream of water between the shore and the island, with the island to my left and the shore on my right, and I probably spent a good chunk of that time just letting my mind wander off into space.
But then, in a moment, I suddenly came out of a reverie and registered exactly what was in front of me: tall trees, growing wild and changed by the arrival of fall into brilliant hues of russet, amber, red, gold, and emerald, and perfectly reflected in the tranquil mirror of the lake. I registered exactly what is usually so easily overlooked: Nature done up in her finest, quiet and graceful, patiently waiting for somebody to see. That day, I was lucky to be that somebody.
It doesn’t sound all that extraordinary, and honestly it’s not. Lots of people enjoy this same picture every year, and I don’t know if it’s something they take notice of or not. I don’t get to see it every year, and I haven’t seen it since that day in quite the same capacity. But for me, it was a perfect moment, and that made it magical.
Something else that has always, always carried a bit of magic for me? The blank, lined page of a crisp, clean, brand-new notebook. Frequently a Lisa Frank—remember those neon rainbow notebooks and folders that every girl had in elementary school?—or another one with a pretty cover. When I was a young girl, my favorite aisle in every store was the one with the school supplies on it—the notebooks and folders and pens and binders—and my favorite shopping trip was the one to the office stores when the school supply lists came out. Every year. See, I’m a writer, and those pens and blank notebooks carried endless possibility. A magical unknown.
Last year, my mother volunteered at the RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention in New Orleans, and came home with an assortment of swag. A couple of items were little mason jars, glittered and painted so that they glow in the dark. I think she called them “fairy dust,” and while I know it’s not more than paint and glitter and maybe Elmer’s glue, there’s just something magical about seeing them glow from one of my bookshelves in the middle of the night, knowing that they’re jars of “fairy dust.” When the morning comes, and these jars no longer glow, maybe there’s something a little magical about the day ahead: a hot shower and body lotion, hot coffee with salt and maple syrup in my favorite mug, a candle burning and a journal entry, a date.
Do you get it now? It’s in the little things. Do you believe yet?
I want to know: what kind of magic exists in your world?