Sunday, February 17, 2008


Do you know where the magic is? Magic is the outgrowth of pain. As human creatures, our every breath is taken in pain. Our lot is such that there are many different types of pain, and each one may be categorized according to its own stamp and color. As many types of pain as we know; that is the number that can be added to our repertoire. Perhaps we walk around with suitcases and attache cases and when we set them down, have only to unlock them to unveil the test-tubes within. "This," one would say, while removing the tube with a greenish liquid, "is the pain of living," while this, while removing a tube that froths with a yellow substance, "is the pain of having and caring for children." So many different types of pain, of so many shades and colors, and since there are gradations, they may go ever, ever on, with no end in sight.

And this is what happens; as we walk through our lives we take on different pains. This is often termed experience, but experiences and pain are very closely linked; the two of them are often synonymous, in fact. Any experience that causes growth is one tinged, in some way, with pain, whether it be pain that has been caused by you or to you. And so one becomes acquainted with darkness. One becomes acquainted with the darkness within themselves, that is, their own ability to cause others to suffer or to hurt, and also with the darkness outside themselves, the insufferable night that goes ever on. And there are times at which they must face it alone- if indeed there is ever a choice, for we all bear with us a certain kind of solitude, and when we walk the world that is our one protection. We can rely upon God, and yet it is God who has made us a gift of the pain. This is our test, and it is only up to us as to whether we can triumph. It is our sole purpose to succeed.

Yes, pain is a gift. It is because it is transformative. It is the base substance, the elixir which I may transform into any substance I choose. It is copper but I am an alchemist, and it is up to me to turn it into gold. And so it is that you and I may bear the same pain and yet we may make such different things of ourselves. It is simply because I am an alchemist while you are a magician, and therefore what you can cause to disappear I simply choose to transform. But herein lies the magic. The magic lies in humanity. For one would think that humans could not bear to live in such a world, where pain begets more pain, and one's every motion is shrouded in darkness. One would think we would simply fade away or disappear, bowed under the weight of so heavy a burden. And yet we do not. We are resilient. We take the pain and bend to it, but in the end we work with it so that it does not break us.

There are some of us who are magicians, and who transform the pain into something light, like a feather, choosing to laugh it out of existence so that it forms bubbles, iridescent and floating, touched lightly by our black and white batons before they disappear. There are some of us who are wizards, and who build machines to handle our pain. There are some of us who see it as heavy, perhaps even as a cross, but at the same time recreate ourselves so that we are strong enough to bear it. And then there are those of us who are alchemists, as I am, and we transform our pain in order to make us stronger. It simply takes looking at it in the proper light to turn it into gold.

How do we become these different creatures? What enables us to take our pain and make magic of it, transform it so that we may bear it? Perhaps we are born a certain way; perhaps a particular method comes more naturally to us. But then, it is also possible that we are taught a certain way by our parents, and that is the way in which we follow for the rest of our lives. Or perhaps there is a mixture- perhaps our parents teach us their method, and then we continue on to develop our own. It is in that place between that we become whomever it is that we are, and we learn how to manage our lives, and to grow based on our pain.

I am an alchemist; I transform my pain into gold. I collect these precious metals and display them, hang them within the velveted interior of my attache case. And then, when it is necessary, I take out a different bottle, remove a different test-tube. I am able to mix these together to form the necessary potions, whether they need be administered to me or to others. And that is how I exist. That is how, in effect, I am and become "marvelous." For it is something to marvel at, the fact that we as people go on, no matter how bowed down we are, no matter how we struggle. There is something so beautiful in human beings- that we are able to take our hurt and make something wonderful of it. This is the language of the story, for this is what stories tell- stories transform humans into imagination, and in that process, we engage in a kind of magic. Stories are simply another way of showing ourselves to ourselves, and is simply another kind of magic. I am a storyteller and an alchemist, and those are both my particular forms of magic. You may do it a different way. The point remains: we engage in magic. And this is how we grow.

We are beautiful. As people, we are marvelous. We live our lives and we endure; we take our pain and transform it so that it becomes beautiful. And in that very same way, we transform ourselves, so that we too are magical, and the sum and total of our experiences. I am beautiful in a way that is unique from the way in which you are beautiful, because we have created ourselves in different ways. And yet it is for this reason that pain is my gift from God. As I become acquainted with the many different types of pain, so do I add to my collection, and as is necessary, my repertoire. It is precisely what I need in order to continue on my path. This is my lesson, test and reward all in one. Pain causes the magic. But it is I, The Enchantress, who engages in alchemy.


Baruch said...

Chana,thank you so much for this post. I needed something like this this morning. I truly enjoy your ability to express thoughts/difficult emotional concepts to deal with so well.

Miri said...

don't know if this link will show up; but anyway, I thought it might be better than linking you to him.

An old friend said...

Olivia, when I interact with you you are pretty joyous a good bulk of the time. ...It's the status of your facebook that got me worried for a minute there. Whatever it is that's on your mind,you seem to be handling it well here. But, here is to a positive update in your facebook and all your intriguing adventures!

recepient of your kindness on more than one occasion said...

Chana,what a powerful piece this is! I think of you as someone who so readily unloads other people's burden. You are so giving. It didn't even dawn on me that you would be dealing with a kind of pain that weighs so heavily on you.But,you are an Enchantress indeed. Hope things get better for you soon.

The Cousin said...

Very well written piece.
I wish I had the ability to express my thoughts through writing so fluently.

Or was this whole piece a giant metaphore to suggest that you're (for some reason) taking a chem course this semester, and thus using your newfound knowledge to perform alchemy?
[It's Monday...what else do you expect?]

Hope all else is well