Once when my friend and I were on a trip to Amsterdam, we bought magic mushrooms. We took a box of the ‘number fours’ guaranteed hyperdelic visuals with a warm fuzzy glow, said the vendor in the cafe. Whilst my friend tripped her mind away enjoying every single moment, I – who ate an equal amount – felt nothing. In the end I bought another box and had them all to myself. Still nothing.
It was the year after my MBA, an intensive course of strategic finance and macroeconomics. A world where everything was structured, analyzed to death and presented in powerpoint. There was no room for intuition, no room for emotion or at least only when analyzed as a bias to objective findings. Feelings mattered little unless they were an influence to be eradicated in organizational behaviour. There was expansion and growth of my brain, academic achievement which resulted in a prestigious job as a finance director. There was no magic, no feeling, not even as it turned out… with the most mind opening of drugs.
But as pendulums must, I eventually swung the other way. I lost my job during a time when my feelings threatened to overwhelm me. Like the flood that smashes through the cracks in a dam, that pent up emotion destroyed my life as I knew it and for a time I was dead, drowned in the turbulent waters of my own self destruction.
When I washed up on the shore of an unknown land where I’d lost everything, I navigated my way through the unfamiliar terrain equipped only with the tools that I had been given. Three degrees didn’t help me find meaning. They didn’t help me find magic.
Mushrooms distort your sense of space, time and reality. When my friend returned from her mushroom trip back in 2004, she described colours that I hadn’t heard of. Patterns that I couldn’t see. And a feeling that there was so much more. It was like there was Magic, she said – everywhere, if only we knew how to find it. It was more real, than real.
Nowadays I’m a writer. In order to write, I must feel. The more I feel, the more I recognize the presence of magic in my world. Pivotal moments of utter madness and serendipity. Opportunity and adventure. I feel magic everywhere, when I’m listening to hauntingly beautiful music… or whispers of a thrill that I can no longer hear when I wake at the tail end of a dream. They’re long gone with the sunrise. It’s in those moments when I become aware of something that has remained hitherto hidden, or when suddenly I see flashes of strange images from my subconscious, fragments from long forgotten past events.
The way I find magic… the one, the self or the unconscious stirrings of a universal undercurrent, is through my own feelings. They’re now alive and acutely sensitive. To explore my passion of life in brutally honest prose, I must feel. To read it between the lines of achingly delicate poetry, I must feel. Feeling life is magic and uncovers even more. The more you feel, the more you allow yourself to feel, the more magic you will discover. Not analysis, not critiques, and not even explorations of the psyche which preoccupy me a lot of the time. They’re interesting, even mind blowing but if that were all there was, they would be ultimately unsatisfying.
I’ve had plenty of magic moments in my life. When I found out that I’d first contacted my natural mother on her birthday (as opposed to the other 364 days of the year). When I saw a picture of my boyfriend on a dating site and knew, knew for sure, even before I’d read his profile that we would fall in love. And that he would change my world. When my husband and I fell in love with another couple – a billion to one chance, since they lived in another country and a radically different world. When I was mugged on a train and relieved of all my possessions on my way to my father’s wedding in Cyprus… but despite it all got there with no passport, no money, and no mobile phone. In a plane without a ticket, in the first class cabin with free champagne. Coincidence? Intuition? Hindsight?
Yet magic is not in the actions. It is in the being. In the feeling. Unless you feel magic deeply ingrained in your body, pumping round your veins… you will never have it in your life. Unless you feel the world vibrating around you with the hum of its secret unerring passage, you will never recognize it as magic. It will be coincidence. Confirmation bias. Survival instinct. And whilst you might ‘do’ all the right things to manifest it, you never will. Because it does not need to be manifested, only recognized when you have the eyes to see it. When you allow yourself to feel, you will find magic. Life will take you for a magical ride. Just let go.
What we call magic is the unknowable, the ineffable. Because tangible structured architectures cannot be magic. Your conscious brain is not magic. Even words. Music. Art. They are none of them magic. They may be however the external symbol of the magic that resides deep inside the artist. And they can inspire magic in you – that is to feel – instead of thinking. Those beats of a tune that strangely stir lazy lust in your loins, that painting which remains indelibly imprinted in your head even if you close your eyes and can still bring pinpricks of tears to your eyes, even after it’s graced your wall for years. Magic is everywhere, but you cannot touch it, taste it, or smell it. You can only feel it.