Home > Stories > On Finding Magic and Shifting Gears: a Personal Story
On Finding Magic and Shifting Gears: a Personal Story

October 21, 2015

By Jacinta Hin

I love to write. I read books about writing and have attended courses. I also lead an active, irregular life with lots of travel.  Each month I spend many hours on an airplane. You would think I would use my time wisely and write, or at least read. But no, I watch movies and play games and nap. In a moment of sheer boredom, some lifetimes ago, I must have sold my soul to the devil of future airtime mass entertainment.

I am always hopeful that one day I will be able to break this mind-numbing habit of just going through the motions of travel. And today, en route from Tokyo to Amsterdam, I finally have. All it needed was the perfect book, downloaded this morning and, seated in a row of serious readers, voila: spell broken.

So here I am, somewhere above the Mongolian Steppes, reading and writing.  My row 17 travel companions and I have been reading continuously for hours. Now and then we take a mini-break, but no more than a minute or two. We smile at each other during these breaks, barely noticeable flickers of mutual recognition and pleasure, yet all we need not to give in to the temptation of watching a movie or closing our eyes for the remainder of the flight.

For you, all this may seem trivial. For me, my world has shifted.

We need the occasional unexpected breakthrough so that we can shift into a new space of being and clarity. We can continually wish for these moments, almost giving up, and then suddenly they are there. Most importantly, we must catch these turning-point opportunities. They disappear just as quickly as they show up and are easy to miss when we don’t pay attention.

I take a longer break from reading to write. And feel a little guilty. What will my neighbors think? I console myself in knowing that reading and writing are interconnected, two sides of the same coin. The words of another person flowing into my consciousness and the other way around. Writer and reader are in eternal conversation with each other. The writer needs her reader, and the reader needs his writer.

During one of our rare reading breaks, I chat with my immediate neighbor, a 74 years old Japanese widower, recently retired. He is in the middle of a novel by Japanese author Toyoko Yamasaki. He loves her work. Lengthy books of thousands of pages published in parts. He is blessed with a nice sum of money, he tells me, that he likes to spend while still in good health and of sane mind. Every month he travels to a faraway exotic destination. This time, it’s a ten-day boat tour along the river Rhine starting in Germany. Last month he was in Bolivia. In January, he will go to the North Pole. A while back he visited a tiny island near Australia, the name of which escapes me. In-between trips he reads and plays golf with his friends. He never plans much in advance: “I go wherever my imagination leads me.”

Synchronicity has it that the book I am reading is all about imagination. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. It’s her latest book, just published, in which she talks about the process of creating and loving your art. I could not have hoped for a better book than hers and a better travel companion than the man seated next to me who travels the world in search of magic.

I am finishing this piece of writing a week later on the way back to Japan. My travel companion on my previous flight comes to mind. He has been on the Rhine for seven days now, three more to go. I imagine how he is leaning against the railing of his cruise boat at night, alone, stillness all around him, gazing at the reflection of the moon on the water and the deep dark forest afar. He sighs, overwhelmed by the serenity and beauty of it all. Suddenly he spots a water fairy happily hopping along the boat, spreading twinkles of light every time she touches the water. She looks at him with big mischievous eyes, seducing this Japanese man who had seen it all but now finds himself falling in love with a see-through ten-centimeter-tall fairy.

Who would not want to get magically lost this way in space and time?

We can imagine anything and experience magic at will,  if only we would allow ourselves to do so. Just close your eyes with the intention to open them to seeing something different and new. What can you sense and see beyond your usual perspective?

“The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.” Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic. I am grateful for her book that could not have come at a more opportune time. She tells me that my art loves me, and to love it back. She encourages me to let my work manifest freely and to believe in magic. To forget about rules and to show up at the writing desk every day, even when not inspired. Also, don’t buy into the myth of the suffering artist, she says. Write from a happy place.

Indeed, why dwell in pain and miss out on the wonder and gift that creative work is? Why not travel the white pages in search of magic? And the world for that matter.

About the author: About the author: Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.
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