I’m spending the winter in Thailand, three months to get away from the cold European winter. I remember the few first days when I landed in Bangkok. Suddenly it was magic again, there in front of my eyes, a different world. View over Bangkok suburbs from the sky train, deep primordial energy, looking at all the channels, shabby houses and a lot of greens, big banana tree leaves and palms everywhere. All the smells of Bangkok, sudden warmth, sights of all the action taking place in the streets. I felt like I was inside a movie. Amazement and awe, wherever I look.
This magic lasted maybe for a week. And bit by bit, day by day, magic faded away and everything became “normal” again. All this exotic experience became completely normal like I’ve been in this place all my life. Pleasant and cozy, but nothing really special, the magic was gone.
Why does the magic go away?
If you look and remember carefully, you can see the same pattern in your life with all kinds of new things you encounter. At first something is amazing and magical, you are discovering a new world and the next moment you look, the magic is gone. It can be a trip to a new country, a new relationship, a new project you started or anything else. The biggest pattern of this kind is our whole life cycle. As children we are amazed by the world, amazed by the moment, we feel it, magic is all around. Everything is new, unknown and magical. And bit by bit the magic fades away and gets replaced by a boring everyday experience. For most people, of course there are exceptions, those lucky ones that stay childlike in adult age.
This happens because at first moment when we get into contact with a new environment or new experience, our mind doesn’t wrap itself around it. The experience is still pure and true and we feel it with different senses, we pay attention to it, to details, nuances. We see it more direct, closer to what it really is. And in this stage there is no need to explain, analyze or make any kind of use out of anything. In this stage, we just experience and enjoy the experience.
With more or less time, the mind starts to map the new experience, starts covering the experience itself with concepts, creates a use out of everything. It categorizes, what is what in relation to us, what does something mean to us, what is useful for us and in which way. And suddenly all these descriptions are what’s important. The experience loses “importance” itself and instead, the practical use becomes what’s important.
And of course, with experience losing “importance” itself, our attention is not in the experience itself any more, it’s not in the moment any more and the magic and awe fade away, they get lost in the background of layers of clouds of “practical” intellectual thinking. Which, we see after some time, is not practical at all, but creates a distraction and an obstacle for our deeper wisdom to guide us.
As it is, we are merely bolting our lives – gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in
because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being.
If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable?
But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.”
How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god?
And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment
from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies
how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?
Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
But.. there are also good news. The magic was never really lost. It remains under the surface, always. It is here now. And there are moments in which life uncovers it for us again. These are the moments of touch with the foundation, with the inner space of pure Being and they don’t have to stay just moments. When we just Are, point our attention within, which is what we do through the Understanding, and don’t bother ourselves with “practicalities” served by our personal minds, the magic reveals itself again and fills every moment just the way it is.
And suddenly everything is full again, everything is new and interesting, we can enjoy every small detail of our experience, every step, every breath, every sound,every sight, we enjoy being ourselves and having the experience, every moment.
All of this is available to us all the time. We only need to take a look within.