Oh, the things you think when you stare at the ceiling in the dark! I frequently have insomnia, usually after getting up to go pee in the middle of the night. Following one of my most recent 2am treks to the loo, I crawled back into bed and tried to fall back to sleep to no avail.
Good job, Cooper, I thought, addressing myself by my last name, which I do whenever I’m pissed off at myself. Like clockwork, you get up to drain the lizard every night at 2am and can’t fall back to sleep.
And I don’t even have a lizard. Rather, it’s something I remember my Dad always singing when I was a kid. He’d announce, much to my mother’s chagrin, that he had to use the bathroom: “I’m off to drain the lizard! The Wonderful Lizard of Oz.”
I laughed at the memory, thinking of Dad’s play on words, which then made me think of the Wizard of Oz. Because, when you can’t fall back to sleep in the middle of the night, your thoughts start shooting out in random, slightly related directions like a spiderweb.
And that, Dear Reader, is what brought me to this point. I started running down the list of all of the different Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic Good wizards to aspire to. Because you can take the girl out of the game, but you can’t take the love of the game out of the girl — especially when that game is Dungeons & Dragons.
I lay there in the dark, thinking about which wizard was the worthiest to hold up as a positive role model. I think the choice became fairly obvious, but we all have our own favorite wizards, don’t we?
On the surface, Merlin seems like the creme de la creme of wizards. He’s ancient, wise, and really tight with a powerful-net-noble king. While Merlin was a really smart dude, he had one major Achilles heel: Hot magickal broads. For all his wisdom, Merlin totally got snookered by Nimue and found himself imprisoned in a rocky, crystalline prison. So, nah. Merlin’s probably not the best choice to emulate.
At first glance, Dumbledore seems like a really good guy. He’s whimsical, nurturing, and overcame some serious trauma. Because when you come to the realization that your wizard boyfriend is the magickal equivalent of a Nazi and you two are morally and diametrically opposed, and your magickal lover’s spat results in the untimely death of your little sister, that will fuck you up but good.
However, as admirable as Dumbledore is for pushing past his history, he also had a hidden agenda. Albeit, an agenda for the greater good, but a hidden agenda he was too comfortable with nonetheless. So, since it wouldn’t sit too well with me to put a kid in the path of the most evil of evil wizards and potentially lead him to his doom in the hopes of annihilating an evil wizard, I’m gonna say “no” to Dumbledore.
Speaking of magickal boy wizards! Harry Potter is the Peter Parker of the Wizarding World with a lot of baggage. Death colors every single aspect of his life. Dead parents. Dead mentors. Dead classmates. And even dead pets. Nice guy with his heart in the right place and a good head on his shoulders despite the heaping helping of shit thrown in his path, but yeah. I’ll pass. Too much death even for me.
Prospero from “The Tempest”
While I like Prospero’s ability to stay isolated and that he’s content to hang out on his own island away from the rest of the world, he — like many other wizards — has some serious personality issues. He becomes drunk with power and morphs into kind of a dick, which might have been why he cloistered himself on his island in the first place. If so, I applaud his self-awareness. Added bonus, Prospero ultimately redeems himself by the conclusion of Shakespeare’s play. However, giving this some closer thought, Prospero might actually be more “neutral” than “good” alignment, so he’s likely a null and void choice.
Radagast the Brown
Perhaps the most unsung wizard in the Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion sagas, Radagast the Brown is downright loveable. I dig his style of being really chill and at one with nature. He largely keeps to himself, yet gets involved when he knows the situation is dire and doesn’t hesitate to help others out. He also has a sled pulled by super fast bunnies, which is extra awesome, not to mention adorable. However, poor personal hygiene and having birds nest and poop in his hair is a reaaaaaallly big drawback. As much as I admire Radagast the Brown on a personal level, I’ve got to deduct a hefty number of points for probably being a bit stinky. Sorry, pal.
Gandalf is the wizarding equivalent of the guy at school who gets along with the jocks, the freaks, the nerds, band kids, and theatre geeks. Gandalf hangs with everyone from hobbits to dwarves to giant eagles. He casually namedrops his pal, Shadowfax, the lord of all horses, who shows up to let Gandalf ride him into battle. Imagine being so cool that your friends let you ride them! (Get your mind out of the gutter! This is Gandalf we’re talking about! Show some respect!)
Gandalf knows how to live life to the fullest. He loves smoking elf weed and throws out reassuring quotes like, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,” in moments of fear and doubt, and shows up whenever he damn well pleases, claiming that “A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” And he does. Gandalf always arrives at exactly the right moment to save the day.
He’s also consistently the voice of reason and a calming influence. Yet, he also knows when to tell a Hobbit they are being an idiot. He knows when to take it easy, but also gets shit DONE when he has to and will confront assholes without hesitation. Without fail, Gandalf always has his friends’ backs. Yeah… if you’re going to aspire to be a wizard, Gandalf is the G.O.A.T.
So, if you find yourself wondering what to do with the time that is given to you, particularly at 2am in a fit of insomnia, think about Gandalf and everything will be alright.