In the long arc of the Empty Sky, the world ends lots of times. Maybe it’s local or personal. Sometimes it’s changes in geography and even physics. Occasionally, the perception of the past and present itself shifts. The old world is gone.
And the next morning the sun comes up and the story continues.
Right now there’s a lot going on. Yesterday we got approved for a new apartment. It’s on the other side of town, so it isn’t a long distance move, but it’s going to be a lot of work getting ready in the next month. The landlord wants to show the place starting next week, so I have to clean it and declutter and start packing at the same time.
It’s a little sad because this is the place we brought the baby home, where she learned to roll over and crawl and walk and talk. On the other hand, hopefully I’ll stop thinking I hear the cat all the time.
Besides the move itself, I’m trying to see how fast I can get all of my paperwork in order. I’ve been thinking about it since I need to get a new license anyway, and now that thought process is sped up a little. Better safe than sorry.
There’s a lot to worry about right now, and a lot I can be doing. But this move is a good reminder that small magic can add up. I started working with the local spirits near my new job when I went for the first interview, and I know that helped. I kept building the relationship when I started working. It’s an awful housing market right now, but when my spouse and I asked for help they delivered almost immediately.
None of us has control over the big picture. All of us have control over some small corner, and the whole point of magic is to increase that control. Well, I’m taking that and running with it: wards and charms and protections, blessings and curses, luck and strength to those who need it. More offerings and stronger relationships, that they drop gifts in my lap and open my eyes so I can see them.
It’s hard to focus in on what I can do personally, so I ended up turning to one of my daughter’s favorite shows for advice. On Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, when a big storm damages the neighborhood, the cleanup effort has three steps according to one of my dad role-models, Daniel Striped Tiger: first you help your family, then you help your neighbors, then you help your neighborhood. I think this combines nicely with the reminder to put on my own oxygen mask first – you start in the spheres where you can make the most difference.
Taking care of my family is the biggest thing I can do. My family isn’t just my spouse and kid or any kind of blood family, but it’s the people who know me and whom I know, the people who I know are safe to vent to and who feel the same way about me, even if we don’t always agree or face the same problems. Heartsiblings, best friends, the people who drop everything when you need to talk and vice versa. These people are easy to help because you either know what they need or they’re comfortable telling you what they need. If you’re doing it wrong, they’ll tell you and you’ll listen. That’s family. They’re easier to magic for because they trust you and are open to you and often your wyrd is bound up with theirs in some way. These are the people you’d trust your life to at the end of the world.
Once my family is as stable as I can make it, then there’s neighbors. These are the people who live near me – because a lot of the time, my safety and well-being is intertwined with theirs – and this is also friends and other social groups: for me it’s my church, my online friends, and my coworkers. For you it might be people in your church or grove, your co-workers, your kid’s classmates, your gaming group, whatever. These are the people whose well-beings directly impact your well-being, either because you care about them or their situation impacts yours or both. I don’t know them as well as my family, so I need to pay more attention to what help they want. But not only do I want my friends to be safe and happy, but if my neighbors are in trouble or my coworkers aren’t able to come to work, I’m likely to be impacted by that too. These are people who you probably know at least a little bit, and who probably are willing to trust your good intentions (and you’re probably able to trust theirs). Ask what they need and help them get it if you can. These are the people who are going to be in the warehouse with you at the end of the world, fighting off zombies with baseball bats. You want them in as good a shape as possible.
The neighborhood is the bigger picture: governments, organizations, movements, demographics. I can’t protect every queer person personally, but things that affect the queer “neighborhood” affect all of us. I’m disabled but not dependent on the ACA as much as some people, so I need to listen to other people in the disabled neighborhood to know what is most helpful. I’m not a person of color, but I can try to protect the PoC neighborhoods similarly. Listen, ask, act. Magic and action alike in this area tends to be most effective if it’s supportive magic powering others or precisely targeted: I can join an organization with a regular donation, volunteer at a local group to do a specific thing, knock on doors and get out voters in my district, honey jar my government officials, bless and protect those in the streets.
In that same episode, Daniel Striped Tiger quotes Mr Rogers, telling his son that when he was scared, his mother taught him to look for the helpers. This is important too. This is still the same country it was last week in a lot of ways, but some band-aids got ripped off hard and we popped some stitches. I have a whole house to pack, altars to disassemble, a toddler to take care of, plans to make. We have a lot of work to do for ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our neighborhoods. But we’re not alone. I’ve had friends already offer to help with moving. Lots of people are trying to figure out what to do next. That’s what we can do. Those of us who can, get up in the morning. Keep moving forward. And remember the names of the ones left behind.