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Touching and sensing the invisible was a transcendent feeling of sorts that I remember having experienced in a dream a few times, and only once before in real life. 

Years ago I was visiting an old violin maker I knew, at his workshop in Safed, in northern Israel. I travelled there often, complimenting business with pleasure. I was very curious about his workshop, tools and many instruments that were hanging around in neat rows. In the golden evening light coming from a grime-covered window, I could see myriads of dust particles suspended in the thick air. The smell reminded me of times long gone, where the music was a divine art and time crawled by slowly. After a while he has shown me a rather mysterious violin. It clearly was very old and hand-made, and had a fabulous sound. I don’t play violin myself, so he played it to me and I was amazed by the rich and deep tone that had a seemingly impossible resonance for such a small room. And when I looked through the violin’s f-hole (which is not a pejorative, in case you don’t know, but a name for the f-shaped sounding hole in most string instruments) I clearly saw a maker’s seal. Right next to the seal were the words “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis faciebat anno 1714”. Wow. “Is it really?..” I started asking. “Nobody knows”, shrugged the old violin maker. “It’s definitely an 18-th century instrument, beautifully made, but it isn’t listed in the catalogues of Stradivarius’ work. So it may be an amazing forgery, or a long lost masterpiece, but we can never really know. I think it sounds too good to be a forgery.” 

Well, not every day you get to hold something in your hands that was made centuries ago and is a unique artifact that someone had poured his soul into for many days, shaping it to perfection. Things are not made this way anymore in our times. I looked at it from different angles, trying to appreciate the maker’s genius. Suddenly I felt the palms of my hands itching. The itching increased almost to the point of a burning sensation. I was very surprised and asked the old violin maker to hold the instrument while I look for a napkin or go and wash my hands. “It must be the heat,” I thought, telling him of my strange sensation. “Oh, that…” – he said, “you are just sensitive to the energy it emits. After all it was made by a deeply devoted artisan and dozens of musicians have given it all the emotions and talent they had over centuries. So no wonder you can feel all this energy”. I smiled at him cynically. I’m deeply sceptical of all of the New Age nonsense that has become so popular since, as Nietzsche said quite eloquently, the god has died. People are just too ignorant to learn any philosophy or religion in depth, preferring instead to mush together everything that sounds mysterious, meaningful and exotic, and believe in what is essentially magic for all I care. Well, not me, thank you very much. But I had to admit I was curious. 

He must have guessed what I was thinking so he said “Let’s test it! I have just the thing: an amber talisman I got from a kabbalist I know.” He dug deep into some box that was sitting on the shelf, and dug out a small amber-coloured translucent coaster-like object with a symbol carved on the top side: it was either a pentagram or a star of David, I could not see clearly from where I was standing. He put it on the table and invited me to pass my open hand about 20 centimeters above the object. 

“Do you really think I would feel anything?” I asked. “It’s not a question of ‘if’ – oh you will feel it all right, the question is how high can you wave your hand before you stop feeling the energy. It is a kind of an energy sensitivity meter, in a way”. I felt ridiculous but waved my hand over the talisman just to indulge the old man. To my astonishment I felt a strong sensation that can be best described as moving my hand through a warm water stream coming from a faucet. The sensation was too strong to be any kind of self-induced illusion, wishful thinking or anything like that. It was similar to moving my hand through warm water! I was shocked by a cognitive dissonance of what I felt and what my eyes told me was happening. My vision has never deceived me like that before. I knew I was sober and hadn’t even once tried smoking weed by then – although how did I manage that, with most of my friends being musicians, painters and artists is still a mystery. So I just stood there and kept swiping my hand back and forth for half an hour like an idiot. 

If you are expecting me to tell you of a revelation of some sort, converting to some religion or a cult, believing in New Age crap or any sort of a climax in this little episode – I am sorry to disappoint you. Not gonna happen. That was it. There was no explanation, no revelation, no religious experience or anything like that. 

The old man chuckled at my amazement and left me alone. He took some unfamiliar tool and started working on one of his violins. A freshly cut wood smell filled the room. Eventually, I stopped waving my hand around. Nothing really came out of it, but to this day I just can’t ignore this: there must be a whole new dimension to our reality that we have no real knowledge of. I have lost track of the old man after the Hamas bioterror attack had turned Safed into a ghost town for a few years. You have probably never even heard of it because of the way the media usually reports events from that region. But I’m sure you have heard what happened when the whole thing backfired by the very same bioweapon escaping the terrorist lab in Gaza and roaming through the overpopulated city. That was widely reported – unlike the Safed terrorist attack that was quickly contained, so there weren’t many deaths and most people have eventually returned to their homes. Still, next time I was visiting and wanted to follow up with him, he was gone. He was either one of the attack’s victims, or had just left and never returned.

The world never looked the same to me. Having a rational mind I could not accept any of the obviously fake explanations that were offered by different New Age “gurus” so I just left it at that. Still, that experience gave me a feeling that there is an underlying structure to our reality that we have no idea about. Calling it “magic” or “god” would not help, as those are just words describing something unexplainable. Our science might not be advanced enough to explain or even measure it yet, but in my mind it did not make it any less real. 

The invisible wall I felt in the forest strongly reminded me of that experience in the old violin maker’s workshop. It had the same feel to it, both undeniably material yet invisible and somehow not of our world as we know it. I’m struggling to find the right words here, but it seemed that I felt it the same way – as if not with somatosensory system, which is responsible for our sense of touch, but with some other sense I had no idea I have. Very much like I felt in that workshop. I was deeply amazed and excited, even shocked by what I was seeing, but somehow in some deep layer of my internal narrative I was thinking “I knew it! It’s real, there’s something larger to the world than the boring reality we think we know!”. 

I felt like I made an important discovery, like an apple has just smacked me on the temple and revealed the concept of gravity.  I just had to figure out what makes it important, and what exactly I had discovered. Oh well, little did I know. The word “important” doesn’t even begin to cover it. If anything, it was a gross underestimation.

I tried to calm down – and almost succeeded – when there was a loud “whoosh” and the damaged lithium-polymer drone battery exploded, spewing fire and white smoke. I jumped away, shouting obscenities, and my heart rate must have gone through the roof. The smoke was dense, and as it was rising against the barrier it showed clearly where the invisible wall started and went way up. Smoke dissipated some four or five meters above the ground, but the barrier’s contour was still visible there. A minute or so later the fire died, leaving a partially melted frame but not causing any more damage. Fortunately, the ground was damp and nothing had ignited while the chemicals were burning out.

I gave myself a moment to calm down once again – it was more difficult this time. My curiosity was fighting against the “fight or flight” instinct (or rather just the “flight” instinct, as I was never very good with fighting, nor there was anything to fight). 

The curiosity won.

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