Am I rubbing my eyes, dazed and waking? Is it a prayer, or meditation? Perhaps I attempt to hush, for moments at a time, the disquiet--the to-do lists and sorrows and failures in the lifelong quest for wisdom and betterment.
In elementary school I pressed the heel of each palm against my eyelids, keeping pressure to make vivid the clouds, bursts and shadowy geometrics dancing in the dark. I counted to thirty, at least, before releasing to see the shapes linger in light, infiltrating the waking world.
That is, until a teacher asked, "Are you okay?" In front of an entire class.
"Yeah, fine," I said, as if confused by her concern. I doubt I knew the word hallucination at that point, unless some D.A.R.E. lecture brought it up. I was just playing a game with my imagination, like finding animals and dragons in sunny, afternoon clouds between recitations of multiplication tables.
So I've been thinking about magic lately, and the very human need to believe. Maybe somewhere inside I know that nothing is ever as elegant as I'd like, that all those books and movies portraying worlds of adventure and import are fictions we use to hide the tedium of everyday. But is any of it real? Is Art giving us unrealistic expectations for Beauty, Love, Elegance, Truth, Or Meaning? All those capital-lettered keywords we chase about and map onto our lives. Because everyone should have their own romantic comedy, right? Joan Didion once wrote, "We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience."
I can't help but chase magic and call it nonfiction. I write down little stories and look for thematic import. Is Meaning there already, waiting for discovery? Or am I just watching shadows run from the light?
In any case, my knuckles fit well along the bones of my skull.