This year in nursing school I have had to perform many magic tricks to cope and survive. The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has given me a new outlook on life. During quarantine, my routine was the same—attend class (via Zoom), study, sleep, and repeat. In the midst of my routine, I took time to reflect on the chaos happening. The virus is very real, but I realized that the concept of “magic” could be applied to what’s happening in response. I envisioned the idea of magicians making something appear before one’s eyes—or making it disappear, an illusion called “now you see it, now you don’t”.
Lexico defines magic as “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces”. Our world today needs a magician, as mysterious things not understood are happening because of the wizard known as COVID-19. Society is performing a disappearing act as we shelter in place. Opportunities we once took for granted are now illusory. Disappearing acts are happening all around; daily routines have disappeared faster than one can say presto.
Those routines include spending time with family and friends. My family is close-knit. We see each other often and share meals together. If I had a magic wand, I would change it all back! I would perform a slight-of-hand trick and all things would revert to the way they were. I would do a vanishing act and tragic events, such as young people dying, a lack of ventilators, and people not adhering to sheltering in place would all disappear.
The COVID-19 wizard has cast a wide spell. Vast numbers in society are not employed, which has had massive effects on the economy and personal livelihoods. During this time of negative enchantment, people are without jobs, without food, and without societal interactions. Hospitals report a shortage of beds, space, and ventilators. Zoom meetings have replaced a doctor’s visit and a live teacher at the front of the classroom. At first Zoom felt like a supernatural event, now it’s commonplace. The phrase “now you see it, now you don’t” finds a more secure place in my psyche every day. If I could, I would saw society in half and then make it appear whole and healthy again.
Various sources foretold a pandemic in the future, but few were prepared when the wizard appeared. Hospitals could not conjure up more doctors and beds. A cure has not been pulled out of the proverbial hat.
It may seem odd to compare a pandemic to a magic act; I wish I could advance the analogy by saying abracadabra to make the curse go away. Society could be ordinary again: People could go to work again, visit friends, go to doctor’s visits, go to the library, take a walk around the block, and much more.
If present times can be compared to magic with negative results, one can also conceptualize good magic. Medical personnel perform good magic working in hazardous conditions and working intense hours. Although a nurse is regarded as one who cares for the sick, because of the pandemic wizard, they have now become recognized as miracle magicians. They are compassionate, they care for the patient and the patient’s family, and they are teaching families how to do video chats online as family members appear magically for a virtual visit. They have extrasensory perception—they know what is needed, and they deliver it every day, all day. They are medical miracle magicians.
It took a global pandemic for people to fully realize the magic tricks that nurses and other medical professionals perform all the time. They “now you see it and now you don’t” as they cure us and try not to catch what we have. Nurses, doctors, teachers, mailmen, farmers, and supermarket workers—the list of people who provide for the public and may endanger themselves while doing it is endless. So many roles in society are provided via hidden magic; not seen but certainly felt, needed and then missed when they disappear.
Individuals are hoping to pull an ace out of the deck of life to still go ahead with their graduations, weddings, and special life events. Now more than ever, individuals are bonding over everyday magic such as having a cup of coffee via FaceTime. Children are writing on sidewalks again, and adults and children are riding bikes once more.
I don’t need tarot cards to tell me the future. My next semester will be online, so my classmates and I will work together via Zoom (of course) sharing laughs to decompress as we ourselves are becoming medical magicians. I will continue studying as a nurse, in order to become my own brand of magician, using my own tricks with added sparkle, so I can make an enchanting difference in the lives of patients and their families.
Gianna Faia is a nursing student at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. She thanks Judith Bonaduce, PhD, RN, a nursing educator at the university, for her manuscript review and insights.