Almost everyday I think to write this post and then another idea takes over but here we are MAGIC. Without it where would we be? Children delight in magic, magical stories never go out of style. Magical beings are fascinating to us whether in the form of dragons or super heroes. Popular media are swamped with magical tales from Harry Potter to Vampire Diaries and Witches of Eastwick. But what really is magic? I am going to tell you a couple of stories, personal experiences, these will not answer that question but to me they proove that something is greater than the mundaneness of reality that we accept and insist is all there is.
Last year here in Tribeca workers had just completed the plantings in a brand new garden greenway along the Hudson River around Murray Street. There was new dirt and tiny newly set plants for a few blocks along the river. I was walking home one day and I noticed that this small strip park was crowded with huge dragonflies, thousands and thousands of them. In over 30 years in New York City I only ever saw one of those big dragonflies and that was on 12th Street between University and Fifth Avenue, kind of odd also. I stopped to watch the dragonflies. They were buzzing around in deliberate circles over the plants there was no still water as you might expect for these creatures. Suddenly it occured to me that I was seeing dragonflies because that is what my reality accepts but the thought hit me that they were not dragonflies but were actually faeries there to set the plants and activate the spirit of the new garden where no garden had ever been before. This idea felt absolutely right to me. I looked as carefully as I could at the dragonflies trying to see if I could see them as faeries but it never happened. Call me crazy, who knows what we see and how the mind interprets what we see. All I know is that there were all those thousands of dragonflies there for one day and now there is a vibrant and gorgeous garden there now.
Another time I was walking in the woods of Vermont by myself. These woods were always very quiet and rarely were there any hikers going by except in hunting season. Suddenly I heard as clear as anything a set of pipes like the pipes of Pan. It was not windy. I could see through the woods in the direction of the sound and I saw no one. Again, I have no idea what that was but it was an undeniable sound.
Magic is that which leaves room for amazing things to happen. Magic is a harbinger of new rules for the way the universe, our world and our reality function which we don’t quite understand yet. Think of the things that we take for granted which would have been considered magic just a century ago: cell phones, TV, Satellites, nanotechnology, and so much more. If we deny magic we close the door to untold and uncounted future possibilities. We close the door to surprising nows.
Magic is beyond the idea of hope or wishful thinking it is a mystical knowing and practicing with the forces of life that produce space or possibility for different outcomes. Here is another experience.
I was working on a project for a summer spiritual retreat a few years ago which was a 30 foot wide and 20 foot high back drop for the stage where the festivities were to be hosted. I designed the back drop and worked with a crowd of volunteers and one other experience painter, together we pulled the bulk of the project together and to completion but it was touch and go and a big mess for most of the process. Finally we dragged it into the hall and laid it on the floor for the crew to hang it while we went to lunch. I looked at it then and thought, “Oh well, done is beautiful” a term from my costume business. And left for lunch thinking that the work looked a bit flat and maybe unfinished yet.
When we returned I ran straight to the farthest side of the hall to see what the drop looked like and when I turned around I was blown away. It was stunning. Somehow between laying it on the floor and hanging it up the drop had become infused. It glimmered, it sang, it came alive and touched places inside that reminded us of mystical connections. I don’t know how this happened and I have more to say about this drop which I plan for tomorrow’s blog. This kind of magic is the ineffable something that we always seek to create in the theater; that electrical magic that sweeps one away and sparks a connection to the mysterious lifeforce that inspires us all. That’s what magic is about, to deny it is to shut out the mystical part of us the part of us that nourishes our greater being and then that greater being that nourishes the form of us that we know.