Show Me Magic
He asked for a pen and tape and a piece of tin foil.
He taped the pen to the side of a table so its tip pointed toward the ceiling. He ripped the foil into a two by two inch square, and he balanced it on the tip of the pen.
We sat across each other, on opposite sides of the table, in the firelight, and I watched him focus his eyes on the foil. I watched him place his hand near the foil without touching it. I watched his eyes squint, and after about thirty seconds, I watched the foil start to spin.
I guess I should note now that we were completely sober, that the windows were closed, that there was no fan, that it really was just the still air, his attention, and the spinning foil.
The foil spun a couple of times until he dropped his focus, and it stopped.
He told me how it started, how he thought he moved something in his apartment without touching it, and how he started researching descriptions of similar experiences. He read about using the foil to practice, and he’d been working with it for months. He said sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
I looked at the foil like it was a toy, and I focused. Immediately, it began spinning around and around. When I lowered my hand and looked away, it stilled. When I lifted my hand and focused again, it spun. Moving the foil felt as simple as picking up a book and moving it on a shelf.
He warned me to be careful, to not let it consume my attention, so after he left, I just went to sleep.
Don't Let the Sideshows Distract You
I woke the next morning and the pen was still taped to the table, the foil resting on top. I lifted my hand as I’d done the night before, but nothing happened. Not even the slightest shifting to confirm that I wasn't completely crazy. I found myself growing frustrated, just as he warned I would, and I could see how mastering this could become an obsession. I could see how mastering it didn’t matter at all. All that mattered was that it happened, that I remembered, and that that night in the presence of whatever wonder and acceptance existed between us, my experience of reality grew a little bigger, a little more mysterious, and a little more awesome.
I crumpled the foil and tossed it in the recycling. I untaped the pen and placed it back in the mug on my desk. I threw the strip of tape in the trash. And I never tried again, but now, when life starts to feel serious or hard or certain or in any way restrictive, I remember.