Magic, from the outside, looks magical. Bam! Poof! Alacazam! Transformation happens, amazement ensues, and everybody is happy!
Is there any wonder why people who never really wanted to be a tranny in the first place (2006) dream of that kind of magic happening in their lives? They want the magical transformations that they imagined, and dammed be anyone who challenges that dream, who bursts that balloon, seeming to steal their dreams.
Real magicians, though, from stage illusionists to shamans, know that magic is always damn hard work. Someone has to fold themselves up tiny in the box, or go on the dream quest, or be there when people time and time again come for healing. Lots of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears go into mastering magic, into making it look effortless and elegant.
Magical thinkers, though, get very upset when reality intrudes on their need to believe. They cling to fundamental tenets, thrashing to silence anyone who tries to reveal the hard, human truths behind the mysteries that they crave. They can’t speak from experience, sharing their truths, they can only speak from desire, desperately trying to wall off their dreams from the scary pull of cold reality.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda, is compelling stuff. It’s easy to think that the pressures which affect you are just wrong and the world needs to change to satisfy your imagined perfection, avoiding any discomfort you sense. The way things should be is easy to imagine, and if only everyone else would just do it correctly, the way you say, everything could be great, with no reason to look back and have to face our less than perfect choices. After all, if you and your peers all agree, how can you ever be wrong?
No matter how magical anyone else looks to you, change is hard, taking time and work. We live in a tangible world where every choice has a cost and nothing comes for free. To go one way means not going another, at least for now, facing the discomfort and prices that need to be paid. If you understand it or not, the world works the way it does for a reason, usually for considerations that are only revealed with time and effort. As nice as you think it might be if the world were simpler, if others seemed to think more like you, they have reasons for their choices, often good reasons.
Magic may not come from taking a short cut in the world but instead from understanding it so well that you can polish your skills to create change, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t magic. The power of transformation is magical, even if it comes from discipline, precision, learning and commitment.
Many want to know the secrets to the magic, but magicians have learned not to give out the secrets. Some think that silence is a kind of elitism, but anyone who has struggled to learn any kind of magic knows that the only way to be able to make magic is to own your own magic. There is no simple secret to magic and when muggles learn that, they are often upset or angry. Even when they are told the truths behind creation they don’t understand the path to the power, instead wanting to have their magical thinking validated and affirmed.
This is one reason why so many transpeople who have claimed their own magical emergence just go silent and fade back into the woodwork, not wanting to be attacked by fundamentalists as demons or by wishers as dream destroyers. People don’t really want to see the hard work that goes on behind the curtain, instead preferring just to hold magic as something outside of the truth of sweaty, bloody, struggling humanity.
I always loved magic, but I never fell into believing that there were magical solutions to human challenges that created change without work or manifested transformation without discipline, loss and suffering. “Grant me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
People heal and grow in their own time and their own way. For people like my Aspergers parents, change was always slow and difficult because they just didn’t have the theory of mind to get out of their own way and learn from those around them. Their patterns were solid and fixed and if the world didn’t understand, well, that was the world’s fault.
I needed magic, though, needed it badly. I had to gain a clearer view, see the patterns, understand the emotions and work the process if I wanted to get comfortable in my own too queer, too smart, too visceral skin.
From my earliest days, I was the target patient in the family, the scapegoat everyone called “Stupid,” identifying issues and trying to find a better way. This lead me to the role of wounded healer, the kind of magician who finds miracles, new ways of seeing, inside of struggle.
In my breeches role as concierge, magic was part of the mandate, understanding what those I loved needed before they did and making sure I offered it up to them. Like any shaman, I crossed boundaries they saw as solid, entering their world to offer bits of comfort and wisdom that could support their growth and healing, no matter how slow they went and how much patience that meant I had to magically muster up.
I don’t talk about bloody magic to bash the magical dreams of others. I talk about bloody magic because that is the gift that other wise humans have passed to me, bits of stories from their path that helped me find and own my own path to whatever magic I could scrape up in this finite world.
Before and after may always seem like magic, but all magicians know that it is the between where the work and mastery come in. That process can only be entered, though, if you let go of magical thinking, wishing for easy & instant, and engage the real work of bloody magic.