There’s a Baptist pastor I know, just down the road in Lexington, who has over his desk a picture of a broken wand, and underneath the picture are printed these words, “My magic wand is broken.”
So’s mine. And I’ve yet to find any shop that can fix it. Not even in our quirkiest shopping districts here in Louisville, not even in the oddities and trinkets I found wandering the streets of Chinatown and Little Italy this past summer in NYC.
Nothing remotely like Ollivanders to be found. Anywhere.
So basically I’m giving up on ever getting that magic wand fixed.
Which is sort of the whole point. And exactly why that Baptist pastor friend of mine has that damn sign up in his office anyway. Because the things that are discussed in that office–the shattered hopes and broken lives and crisis points and destroyed dreams that bring people there–they can’t be waved over and made perfectly well in an instant anyway.
Not even with Hermione’s very best and most well-intended spell. Not by a long shot.
And this is how it is with most things in our lives that are really worth making whole again, or living through so that we thrive again, or working on so that we can be better versions of ourselves–it cannot be done in an instant.
You cannot heal the pain and destruction that leads to divorce by signing a few documents and moving into two separate homes and calling it a day.
You cannot heal the trauma of abuse or assault, be it emotional or physical or otherwise, by making a choice to pretend it did not happen. Or even by simply reporting it and hoping for justice. That second option might be a great first step–but it will not take away what has happened to you.
You cannot right failing systems–whether local or national or global–by finally getting YOUR guy or gal in political office or by writing a big enough check or exerting more might than anyone else or by making a fiery speech or issuing the hot take of the day (well stylized in snark font of course) on social media.
You cannot ease grief by shoving it down so far inside you that it cannot be felt, or by masking it with alcohol or drugs or toxic relationships or exacting your pain on others or by simply bucking up and moving on.
There is no magic wand (and no silver bullet either) for the greatest problems of our individual lives or our workplaces or the communities around us. There is only the slow, hard, sometimes gut-wrenching, but always worth it, work of putting one foot in front of the other and doing, as Glennon Doyle says, “the next right thing,” whatever that thing may be in any given moment.
And I think, perhaps, the “next right thing,” is sometimes recognizing that when people or situations are broken, there is a tremendous difference between “fixing,” (which is rarely helpful) and instead seeking to just be present–just present–on the road to wholeness.
We carry the pain of our lifetimes with us at all times–and there is no “fixing” that. And in our work and in our communities we carry with us all that has come before and all that is currently happening–there is no “fixing” that, either.
There is, however, in our personal lives, feeling whole again, and that 1) takes time, 2) cannot be done in isolation, 3) has no points A through B to mark the way clearly and 4) often includes setbacks/bad days/moments of stuckness. And, there is, in our work and our communities, righting the system, and, (repeat 1-4 from “our personal lives”).
I was once given an electronic key finder by someone who could not understand why I was always losing my keys.
Spoiler alert: I still lose my keys. Every damn day at some point. And I lost that key finder long ago. I will always have trouble finding my keys. Always. There’s no fixing it. There’s only meeting me where I’m at with that and accepting all of me–lost key crisis every morning and all.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting that magic wand. Or seeking that silver bullet. I have a long, long, long list of things I would “fix” if I had access to either of those things. Sometimes things are just hard and there is no shame in wishing for a clearly visible, clearly measurable, and clearly (and quickly) attainable solution.
But what I know for sure (yes, just like Oprah)…is that quick magic fixes are not the stuff life is made of. Not when what matters most is at stake. There is only “the next right thing.” And listening well. And loving hard and then even harder. And asking forgiveness and offering grace. And seeking the joy that is to be found, sometimes even in the midst of our greatest pain, in the life we have been given and the opportunity we have to enter into it together.
Now…get to it…but y’all for real…if you DO come across a secret passage into Ollivanders…hook a girl up, m’kay? Thanks.