The stage workers bring a heavy black chair onto the stage. The chair has stout heavy legs. The workers place it facing sideways. Then they leave the stage.
A man now comes to the stage and he is dressed in black. He turns to the audience and bows. You can feel that he is preoccupied with something, as if not all of his attention is on the show, as so many people that we know are. Maybe we too are like that. Something bothers us even as we perform the movements that our society expects us to perform.
But this person is well exercised in doing all the necessary things and we, in the audience, get the feeling that he knows what he is doing and we don’t have to worry about the performance we are about to watch.
The hall is dark indeed. We do not look at ourselves. We are focused on the stage and our hearts just pump a little bit stronger than when we are at rest.
The person on the stage sits in the chair, facing sideways, as the chair is. He looks at us, to connect and to draw the attention he needs. We can feel it. He needs our energy in order to perform his miracles. Nobody says anything and there is not even any pantomime that suggests it, but we, in an unnoticeable way, become committed to giving this unknown man in black clothes all the energy that he needs.
To our amazement, while the man is still looking at us and we feel his preoccupation with something that we do not know, the legs of the chair start to become shorter, but the seat remains in exactly the same place in the space of the stage. It does not sink down. Indeed it floats in the air.
The person’s feet still touch the floor. If he was made of steel and if his soles were screwed to the wooden floor of the stage, this would be somehow physically possible, with a lot of stress. But this man just walked. His legs are not made of iron. How can he do this? What is going on here?
The man on the stage acknowledges our wonder. In fact he seems to be just as quizzical about this as we are. He slightly bows with his head to us, but our attention is attracted now to something else that is happening.
Somehow, in a way that I cannot explain, another, slightly smaller man is coming out of the first man’s body.
At first it looks like a shadow. But the shadow immediately becomes a real sleek person, who climbs on the first man’s shoulders and sits there. This person is more extravagant. He smiles at us, tilts his head slightly forward to thank us and he waves his hands, as if he is conducting the applause.
We are still holding our breath, fearing that the two men on the stage might fall backward. How can this all be?
And before we even start slowing the clapping of our hands, another, smaller person comes out of the second one and sits on that one’s shoulders. The clapping goes wild. We do care about these wonderful people, who can do such miraculous things, and we want to be very careful not to excite them too much. But we can’t stop our gratitude from coming.
The last one is a child. Maybe he is a smallish teenager. He takes his cape off and waves it for us, as if to show that this is an easy thing to do.
The child is shaking his body up and down to imitate riding on a horse.
Then he folds himself back into the second man, and the second man disappears into the first man, who still looks at us, collecting our energies.
Only the first person is on the stage now, sitting in the chair that does not touch the floor. Some clapping still lingers. There is an expectation that the lights in the hall will come on and the show will end.
The stage workers appear on the side of the stage.
The chair, independently, starts to move from under the man to go towards the stage workers, as if they are its parents who came to take him back home. But the man’s legs prevent the chair from going to its parents. The chair tries again, pushing harder against the legs, and this time the man in black notices. He apologizes and lifts his legs from the floor. The chair runs to the stage workers who hug it and walk away.
We move our attention back to the man who, yes, there is no way to deny it, is still in mid air. Who knows how he can be floating there in the tense silence, still looking at us with the expression of not being sure that he did not forget something.
Then there is a puff sound, like that of a balloon exploding far away, and the man disappears.
You may wonder about the significance or insignificance of this show. It had a profound effect on me.
Walking home, moving from light to light in the night, I was not sure where my footsteps rested on the pavement. I still remembered the comfortable chair I was sitting on just a few minutes before, but the chair was not under me. Somehow my mind mixed the chair that I was sitting on with the chair of the show. And when the chair in the show became a child and ran to his loving parents, I felt that my own childhood was leaving me and all of its traumas became resolved. I felt as if I gave up the need to rely on my childhood’s experiences in order to explain my life. And I knew I did not need that part of my life-story any more. More than that, I did not need my whole life story. Instead, I settled into the flow of moving from light to light in the night, trusting the never-ending emergence of playfulness.
I used to be a graphic designer and an illustrator. I became involved with the Chan Meditation Center and studied meditation and Buddhist knowledge with the late Master Sheng-yen from Taiwan. For twelve years I was in a process of deepening my meditation. I had many more experiences and insights and my life changed. After having illustrated more than 40 children’s books and writing two of them, I left this career too and went to New York University to study art therapy.