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  • Writer's pictureTravis Garcia

The Spark

Updated: Jan 21

I stood from the corner of the dimly lit room as my best friend and his fiancée (of one day) looked on in disappointment when a random girl was chosen for the wand ceremony. How could she (Holly, the fiancée) not have been picked? Honestly, the only reason I convinced them to get into the queue for Ollivander's Wand Ceremony was because I thought it would be fate that Holly would be selected. The running joke was that she would buy a wand if the "wand chose the wizard." A joke because Leo planned to spend over $250.00 to build a lightsaber the following day at Savi's Workshop in Batuu and secretly wanted her to buy a wand to justify his toy... I mean very real and very serious weapon only to be wielded by Jedi.

The wand ceremony continued as we witnessed this girl flick her wand around with little enthusiasm as her group of about eight all watched on and laughed. I know you don't know my friend Leo or his fiancée, Holly, but trust me when I say that they like their immersions, and this girl was far from immersive. I could feel the disgust emanating from Holly as this girl probably used the worst form possible to water the flowers in the corner but instead caused them to wilt. The ceremony ended and the girl and her party were ushered away. No magic to be had or seen.

Now that the kindling has been laid; let me explain The Spark, or how this blog finally formulated after years of just being a wisp of an idea.

Leo and Holly point their wands at a dragon
Wands Up

Everyone exits, and we are the last four to leave. I lead the way out with my wife, Leo, and Holly following behind. I put my right hand across my heart and give a slight bow to the Wand Keeper and thank him. I then turn to Holly, put my hand on her shoulder and say, "Maybe next time the wand will choose you." In that moment the Wand Keeper stops her and asks her name. Holly isn't one for being on the spot or much less talked to by strangers but she musters up the courage to answer his inquiry. I saw that the magic was starting to happen and could only think to myself, "don't fuck this up, Holly!" She doesn't and introduces her new fiancé.

The wand keeper then signals to the woman, who also works in the shop, and she slowly closes the door behind her leaving Leo and Holly in front of the Wand Keeper and my wife and I waiting with bated breath. The setting was now intimate with just the four of us and the Wand Keeper in the room. It seriously felt like we were watching a scene from a movie play out for Leo and Holly. The Wand Keeper speaks to them and offers two wands. These wands share a core of Dragon Heartstrings from the same dragon, a strong bond between wands just as strong of a bond between the wizards who they have chosen. As they hold the wands in their hands a crescendo of music floods the room and the pair are standing in a spotlight.

Leo and Holly are chosen by their wands
The Wand Chooses The Wizard

I won't forget the looks on their faces or how hours later you could still feel them buzzing.

At one point, Leo comes from behind me as we are purchasing the wands and he asks me how I organized the spectacle. All three (including my wife) thought I had somehow orchestrated the events that just unfolded. I solemnly swear that I had nothing to do with it. Then I had a moment of realization. I did have something to do with it.

I feel that my simple gesture of thanking the Wand Keeper, even though we hadn't been selected and that the girl he randomly selected didn't help with the magic, resonated with him. I put it out into the world that the wand hadn't chosen Holly but maybe next time it would without making it a scene or saying it in a shitty or sarcastic tone probably also helped. I started thinking to myself how often things like this happen for me. The only reasons why, that I can think of, are that I try to always be kind, understanding, and empathetic. I could have easily said something to the Wand Keeper like, "nice choice, real fine wizard you picked," but I figured it has to be a tough job when every person in that room hopes to be chosen and that you are definitely going to disappoint some entitled vacationers. So I thanked him instead. I could have just walked out and not empathized with Holly about not getting her wand but instead spoke to her in her language and assured her that maybe next time the "wand will choose her."

Holly, Leo, Travis, and Kerstin stand in front of EPCOT and Spaceship Earth
Let's Go On An Adventure

See, it is my belief that The Spark to any magical moment or memorable experience is empathy. Meeting someone in their moment and attempting to understand them from their perspective can kindle a personal response that elevates your travel.

I hope in future blog posts to showcase how empathy, kindness, and understanding has led me down some beautiful and once in a lifetime experiences by igniting a special moment with those I meet in my travels.

-The Empathetic Traveler-


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