The Price of Magic

I was sitting, tucked into the corner of my room at my little desk, a wooden bookcase to my left. I was writing, I don’t recall what. As it moved in, my sight opened up. My heart beat so strongly and so deeply I had to lift my face, to give the blood more space to move through my head. That was when I saw it. I’ve never seen it before nor since but it changed everything. I understood that this was what the Zen Buddhists call satori. I was awake for a moment. The clear thing I retain is a sense of awe.

Turning, I put my hand out to the bookcase and as clear as the air on a snowy mountain side I could see it. I could see that my hand, the bookcase, the books, the wall, my desk, the air were all one. To touch one was to touch everything. I knew I couldn’t hold onto that vision long. I opened myself to the change it was making in me so that I could carry it with me. I dwelt in the awareness of how, just as every drop of water that has ever been still is, what I am has been a part of every other thing and holds its memories, its knowledge, its wisdom, its life. That I am, just adds to all of life. My job became honoring those ancient understandings.

Years later we were camping by the bay with our kayaks. It was a full moon night and we decided to go out and watch her from the water. We set a lantern on the shore in case we too got too far away to recognize our spot. We paddled out but didn’t stop for long. It was like being called to paddle out farther. The water was undulating silk, dark, soothe, and washed with the moonlight. It was like paddling in a trance. There was the moon in the water around each boat but I could see nothing of the water beyond that circle of light. If I looked up I could see the shadow of the distant shore ahead, lights dotting the black. The only sound was the lap of the water on the shore somewhere and the plink of water dripping from the paddle as the other blade slid into the water. It was another of those experiences I knew I couldn’t hold for long so I settled into the magic of the rhythm of the night, the full moon light, the pull of the paddling and shushing of water on the shore.

We paddled until we got into a nest of crab pots that required some attention so that we didn’t get tangled in the lines. Coming out the other side it had been lost. I knew looking for it was futile but did try for a bit. We where now just paddling in the dark towards the sleeping town we didn’t want to reach. The glow that had embraced us was lost, the water was slapping instead of caressing the shore. I tried to find it again but maybe it’s only to be found as the full moon first come to bloom over the horizon, or over the trees in this case. The world had returned to its usual cold water, sharp lines and intent. We had had no intent when we first set out, only allowing ourselves to be lured by the experience. Time returned. We paddled a bit farther then turned and headed back. We figured we had paddled about six miles in two hours. The only time I was really aware of was of the time after we lost the magic.

I had to pay a token price for that trip. I had been wearing earrings that were a gift, that I was particularly fond of. She took one and I had to just say thank you and let the sacrifice go. I’d gladly pay again but I suspect that is a once in a lifetime trip.

In my life I’ve been brush my magic and enchantment many time. Some are extraordinary and transforming experiences but most of the ones in my life have been transporting. I’ve been taken to a place of such pleasure and peace that I notice how amazing it is. They are moments of seeing the shine around something ordinary that demands that it isn’t ordinary. Most of these times have been out in the woods or on the water. Like the experience paddling the willingness to be taken by the unknown, be moved in places I’ve never been without fear is magical. Outside it’s easier to see because of the nature of our awareness and attention out of doors. Inside we assume our surroundings and will fail to notice even the most amazing thing that happen right under our noses. The very awareness of the extraordinary is transformative or enlightening, a thing that I call magic.

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