Magic tricks were a childhood fascination which began with my Uncle showing me the cliché sleight of hand coin tricks which we are all familiar with. Immediately swimming in my childhood fascination, I just had to know how the magic trick was done, so after relentless requests my Uncle had agreed to let me in on how the tricks were done. He made me promise to keep the magician’s code which swore to secrecy the mechanics of the magician’s tricks. I gladly agreed, excited that I had coaxed him into letting me in on the secrets he kept so well hidden. Once I had learned the tricks, my fascination soon transitioned from the magical aspect to the mechanical aspects of the magic tricks. I marveled at the genius of these tricks, the sheer simplicity is what kept the spectators guessing. “Hidden in plain view” is the best way to describe most magic tricks. I was a mediocre magician and absolutely terrible keeper of the magician’s code. I enjoyed the faces of the spectators, but more importantly I enjoyed letting them in on the trick. I wanted so badly to show them how the trick was done, I wanted them to see how simple it was. Much like a religious convert, I wanted to spread the gospel that I had newly become privy to. I eventually gave up the magic business, as I realized early on in childhood that divulging the secrets to your tricks would lead to a short and unsuccessful career. I have throughout my life revisited those tricks, and to no avail find myself letting everyone in on my secrets.
The call came at around 10pm from my friends telling me they had bought some mushrooms for us to try. Mushrooms, an adventure I had not yet experienced but was interested and had been patiently waiting for. I had been introduced to the magic of the psychedelic experience a few months earlier and couldn’t quite understand how I could not perceive this secret universe “hidden in plain view”. How could it hide so well within the humdrum of everyday life, it was this experience that I was chasing after, this trick that I wanted so much to understand. My friends told me they would be picking me up in 15 minutes and I should get ready. I quickly gathered up a Tibetan tapestry I had bought from a local Asian store for aesthetics and my Kruder and Dorfmeister double cd that i had been addicted to for the last month. My friends picked me up and the nervousness was building. When we arrived at our destination we quickly ingested the foul-tasting mushrooms. I clearly recall the strange texture of the dried mushrooms and how much I hadn’t liked it. We tried to calm our nerves with the music and some small conversation. Within the hour, I remember the room began closing in on us and we all had a sense of claustrophobia, someone suggested a cigarette and we all jumped at the chance to go outside to escape our imaginations. I remember the gravel on the asphalt outside was kaleidoscoping with brilliant colors and a tree lit up with a purple hue in the neighboring park began to crawl across the sky. The hidden universe had arrived and it was hard for my friends and I to keep our composure. We sheepishly returned to the room and the anxiety soon returned, the room now was slowly dissolving into a kaleidoscope of geometric patterns and grids and my ability to focus on any one object was diminishing. I was now unable to tell when my eyes were open or closed, but I desired to turn my eyes away from this confusion. I hid my head in my arms and tried to focus on the music, which seemed to be slowing down to a dead stop. I looked up, as I raised my head the music sped back up to normal speed. My senses had now fallen off into an abyss of confusion that I had hoped would soon end. This was not the magic trick I was interested in learning. I stood up to go to the bathroom and upon my return fell over and the last bit of reality I could remember was a stack of boards in the hallway falling on me.
I never believed in a God nor did I believe in any particular design or order to the universe. I was young and I had no need for any such devices to insure my happiness. It was my belief that those ideas were for the weak of mind. But since my first psychedelic experience, I was faced with questioning the validity of my conception of reality, and this shook me to my core. Following the accident in the hallway, my friends carried my limp lifeless body to the room where this dystopic adventure had began. For the next few hours I was in a coma like state reminding my friends that I was still alive by random grunts and groans. It was during these few hours that I thought I was dead and had arrived in what seemed a sort of purgatory of guilt, self-hatred, and an introspective look into the nature of my life. All I can remember of this was that there was a monotonous rhyme which was guilting me about the choices of my life. I also clearly remember that I felt very small and insignificant against the backdrop of all of existence, which now surrounded me. It was at this point that the view began to expand and pan back until I saw myself as a working part in an enormous cell which was all of existence. I was overcome with a sense of euphoria as I realized my place in the universe. From this point I began to wake up to a room of my friends around me laughing and joking. I told them that if this was eternity I would be content with this moment in time. There was a pause and then one of them explained to me that I was only tripping and this was not eternity. Another pause in the room and then I began to cry uncontrollably as the realization that I was still alive set in.
I have not revisited that trick for almost a decade and I am not sure what I had experienced years ago in that downtown studio, but what I found that was “hidden in plain view” was myself. I have run the course of a few self-induced Joseph Campbell style hero’s adventures since then and more and more, through each journey I chip away at the facade and come closer to the true nature of myself. Ever since I was young I have wanted to know how the trick was done. It is this curiosity which has led me through an adventure of knowledge and self discovery. Now I stand on the ledge once again looking to understand another facet of the diamond in hopes of getting one step closer to learning how the trick of life is done.
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