9.23.11 Magic: An Urban Fable of Awakened Senses (and a Wish for You)

I hope you don’t mind my repeating myself today, but I wrote a piece for Psychology Today this morning that seems fitting here.

One morning a Manhattan man with Wall Street numbers clouding his mind hurries down the sidewalk. Hedge funds and his daughter’s college funds and his rising investment portfolio define his reality. Apply shrewd analysis, take calculated risks, and, frankly, finesse some accounting sleight-of-hand, and the numbers grow. This formula he has learned to count on. So this one late September morning should be like the other previous 800: the beginning of more number games.

But a crash stops him. A cab has smashed into a limo. Shouts ensue. No one stops. They’ve seen it before. No one, that is, but him. And it’s not the irate cab driver yelling in the demure limo driver’s face that secures the broker’s attention. It’s the crimson color hanging just beyond the traffic. Maple leaves in the avenue.

He’s never noticed trees there before, he realizes. Never noticed fall had arrived.

For a moment, the air’s crispness seeps somewhere inside the man’s mind, and he feels like the boy he was 43 years ago when he climbed the old oak that showered his family’s backyard with leaves each autumn in Illinois’s Highland Park.

For a moment, an image from last night’s dream flashes across his mind’s ticker screen: ORANGE…RAIN…WNDR09.23.11.

For a moment, he hears music among the din of screams and horns and engines and exhaust. Everything sings, and he feels more alive than all the world.

But as quickly as a leaf lets go, the moment fades, and he cannot endure the trembling in his limbs and returns to his tempo down the sidewalk, a rhythm that measures hours by buys and sells, a rhythm with no senses.


Magic is not a trick of the senses. It’s turning on the senses. It is a shift in awareness. It is surprise mixed with meaning and wonder. For a moment, we recognize how much more reality exists in the dance between the mind and the world of material things. Poets like Neruda have sought magic in onions and old socks. Andre Breton sought it in dreams. Sculptors find it in scraps and twigs. Animal trackers hear it in the languages of the woods and skies. And a broker might feel it in a maple leaf.

So on this second day of autumn, may you stop and let the magic fall inside.

What about you? In what small sensory moments do you feel magic? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Share your day’s three highlights below and let us know where you’re writing from.

See you in the woods,
The Three Highlights Guy



2 responses to “9.23.11 Magic: An Urban Fable of Awakened Senses (and a Wish for You)

  1. 1. the juxtaposition of dying leaves and ripe fruit on my tomato plants.
    2.enjoying my lunch on the front porch and meeting a neighbor for the first time.
    3. Friday night is movie night!

    Heidi in Belmont, MA

  2. 1. The first leaves and yellow needles have fallen and gathered as a garland of golden detail around the newly laid very black asphalted driveway puddles.
    2. The smell of autumn rain is verry earthy, has more depth like wine.
    3. The rain turns cold and less flavorful.
    c. in Racine, WI