On Cartoon Network’s Looney Tunes show, Daffy Duck has decided he wants to be a wizard. He even had business cards printed to be one.
Being a wizard is almost as easy as that. But becoming one is not what Daffy thinks it is.
wizard (n.) early 15c., “philosopher, sage,” from Middle English wys “wise” (see wise (adj.)) + -ard. Compare Lithuanian zynyste “magic,” zynys “sorcerer,” zyne “witch,” all from zinoti “to know.” The ground sense is perhaps “to know the future.” The meaning “one with magical power, one proficient in the occult sciences” did not emerge distinctly until c. 1550, the distinction between philosophy and magic being blurred in the Middle Ages. As a slang word meaning “excellent” it is recorded from 1922. http://www.etymonline.com
The word comes from wisdom. Being one requires wisdom. Being one requires you to look to the future and use your hard-won experience to predict how the future will unfold, and what you can do about it to benefit yourself and others. You know, “magic”.
But to become a wise-one, a wizard, requires hard experience. It is possible that Daffy has acquired some over time. He’s certainly been subjected to all sorts of slapstick cartoon injuries and insults over time.
Remember this one? Daffy swallows dynamite, drinks gasoline, this bottle of nitroglycerin, and then throws a match down his throat. The results are spectacular, but Daffy has to admit that he can only do the act once.
So maybe he hasn’t become a wizard yet. To be a wizard, you have to learn from your hard experience. You have to gain knowledge in order to work spells and do magic.
For instance, my struggles to breathe from COPD have taught me to use magic potions like ginger tea and French onion soup to open my air passages wider and make breathing easier. When the siding on the back of the house deteriorated to the point that the city wouldn’t tolerate it any more, and I couldn’t afford to pay a contractor to fix it, I googled spells for siding repair on the internet, using articles and YouTube videos to magically fix the damage myself. I also consulted other wizards at Lowe’s and Home Depot, where they are happy to give you advice if you buy supplies from them.
Unlike Daffy, I think I do qualify as a wizard. I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor. I taught in a public school for 31 years. I taught middle school children. I lived through the years of the Kennedy assassination, landing men on the moon, the Civil Rights Movement, Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics, and 9-11. I lived through the Cubs winning a World Series. And all those events and hard experiences have given me more wisdom than, perhaps, any sane person would want. Of course, I’m not sure in all my years I have ever actually met a totally sane person.
You may notice that I had to get a new magic hat. My old black Walt Whitman hat flew out the window on Interstate 35 the other day. This one is a fedora made of woven straw, a grandpa hat. Who knows? I am not a grandpa yet technically, but maybe one day before I curl up my toes and go for a long dirt nap… and grandpas count as wizards too, don’t they?