You’re walking along a corridor when you come to a door. It is imperative that you get to the other side, but the door is locked. You hurl yourself against it with all your might, but all you manage to do is hurt your shoulder. The door doesn’t budge. So you retrace your steps back to where you noticed a fire axe hanging on the wall. You start chopping away at the door with the axe, but it’s two inches thick and made of solid oak. It takes you forty minutes to make a hole big enough to reach your hand through and undo the latch, and by that time you’re sweaty and exhausted and your shoulder is killing you. Or alternately, say you know the guy who has the key to the door, but he hates you, so the only way you’re able to get the key is by wheedling and begging, which is humiliating and its own kind of pain.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if just saying the word “abracadabra” would somehow cause the door to open? As in literally cause it. Because uttering a single word is nothing. We do it all the time effortlessly, without even thinking about it. It wouldn’t even have to be “abracadabra”. Anything would do, even a longish phrase that took some effort to memorize. Just as long as it was easier than hacking away at a solid oak door for forty minutes with an axe.
Magic is the fervent desire to be more powerful than we actually are.