A truly magical advice column
Dearest ‘grand’ wizard,
I write you today in hopes I can steal some of your time away from dusty tomes and incantations most foul or the season premier of The Big Bang Theory, I won’t judge. I have for you today two questions. Firstly, I am coming to the end of my undergraduate studies. This is a prospect I am facing with no small amount of anxiety for my future. So, my question for you is: how can I stay positive in these most uncertain of times? My second question is more of an inquiry about yourself: is it mandatory for wizards to wield beards of such magnitude and length or is that a myth attributed to your profession by popular culture?
While I have great respect for the physical sciences, The Big Bang Theory is no longer on my watch list because the producers did not return my calls about a cameo. I have however been captivated by a curious banshee living outside my kitchen window. She has a lovely singing voice, if you can imagine.
In regards to your first question, methinks your beard curiosity is matched only by your chronophobia, anxiety towards the future, that darkness eternally obscured in the mists of time.
I should begin by saying it is no great shame to fear the unknown. History can rightly be regarded as a chronicle of humanity’s attempts to demystify the universe—to assure ourselves that we have nothing to fear.
Yet there it lies behind us and before us, The Unknown. The past sinks back into an unverifiable soup, and the future towers before us, colossal; unknowable. Your fancy YouTube might help fix the former, but there is no antidote to the latter. The shrouded paths of the future are—and always will be—ever before us.
Have I frightened you yet?
Did you know that a family of shrews lives in my pantry? I never see them but I do hear their parties. They must keep a different holiday calendar because they’re always at it. And into my pickles no less.
But yes, the future is terrifying precisely because it is uncertain. The future engenders fear in us but it can, with some work, also grow a hearty hope.
Are you hoping for fortune and ease, or would you consider a contentedness that can carry the weight of disappointment? I’m not advocating for you to dream small, as you know well that wizards are the most prodigious dreamers, but rather to look to a more durable hope than success.
That’s what these schools are churning out these days, success hounds. I keep a strong kennel so I say this as a fan of hounds. But when you send out 10,000 hounds for one fox, well, you can be sure that 9,999 hounds will learn to live with disappointment.
Do you believe the universe to be hostile, a place where we, blind to fact and reason, try to eke out a good life? Abandon all hope if you do, or prepare to turn tooth and claw on your fellow hounds.
Or do you perhaps consider yourself a character in a very important story? With this outlook, you can lose the fox but not howl with rage. Take this view and you might find yourself happening on rich truffles, all along the way.
As for your second question, I assure you that good wizards are not prone to vanity! It might surprise you to hear that most beards of great magnitude grow out of neglect. I once studied the journals of Merlin with such focus that my beard grew six inches and became home to a most delightful sparrow.