I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood and haven’t written any long posts in a while, so why don’t I tell you the story of ‘Les Magiciens’. They were cool.
Some ten years ago I was dating a girl. She felt unusual and wacky and that resonated with me, perhaps I felt she was a female version of me, or, perhaps, I’m just making this up after the fact. In a nice kind of way she believed in magic; in a pretentious, esoteric kind of way – so did I. Not particularly well read in the esoteric, but acquainted with some general ideas of Alistair Crowley and Co I believed in the kind of magic that comes from pro-actively putting your sweat and blood into something. What can be more magical than putting time and effort into turning something ethereal (an idea) into something physical (a real representation of that idea). So no, I didn’t really believe in magic. But I did believe in magical actions.
To prove a point that did not need proving I arranged a thing. I asked a few of my friends to come to a specific place at a specific time, bring some friends, bring some helium-filled balloons, and when the clock strikes – release the balloons into the sky. Not a particularly impressive event if only two people show up, but I had faith. My memory paints me pictures of the event and, like, thirty people there. But I think it was actually about fifteen, some of them bringing several balloons. I didn’t tell the girl a thing, we just came to the general vicinity of the event a bit early, far enough to not be seen, close enough to see everything. And when the clock struck the right time - the balloons, in a tiny, multicolored cloud, slowly started crawling towards the sky. An idea turned into an act that did not have me involved, really. Wasn’t that delightful? Wasn’t that magical? It kind of was.
The girl dumped me the next day (or maybe a few days after that, I don’t really remember and it doesn’t actually matter). The feeling that I did something special - stayed. Somehow I felt that what I and those people, some of whom I didn’t know, did - mattered. Perhaps it were the surprised smiles of passers-by, or perhaps I imagined every single one of them - it didn’t make a difference. And so we continued. We gathered in smallish groups and handed out quotes from ‘The Little Prince’ in three languages; free compliments, hugs and flowers; I’m pretty sure soap bubbles were involved at some point as well. Fascinated with the French language at the time - I called us ‘Les Magiciens’. And for a while nothing was more important. It was easy to be a good-natured, friendly, sociable type with people you barely know when you’re united by the same purpose, I felt like there was no room there for my social anxiety. Of course, in the end it fell to pieces for all the various reasons things fall to pieces – I was cautious of making new relationships and wanted us to stay strangers doing weird stuff, I got possessive, and I actually made the mistake of listening to other people’s opinions of what we did. So the magicians ended. I don’t particularly like having pictures of me around the house, but this one – made by a pretty special person, me with a balloon just before one of the events we did – is still a tender and delightful reminder of how warm and fuzzy it felt to do things that gave us no obvious gain and, I’m pretty sure of it, actually, gave us a few smiles from strangers in the process.