Aidan Ryan '14
Aidan Ryan ‘14
Honors Creative Writing
The last time it happened I was walking uphill through a snap snowstorm, shoes sodden, glasses like two ice-crusted sugar cookies, face upturned into the wind, smiling. I had just departed a Hindu-Christian Heideggerian, a Chinese-American longboarder, and a Montessori teacher. We discussed social media, dharma in the Mahabharata, the fallacy of “service learning,” the possibility of both omniscience and free will, and the Standard Model of particle physics. Then I walked into the storm, and in the space of a second it felt as if the wind had changed direction for me. It was invigorating. It was Pentecostal. I knew it was magis.
Camus describes our daily flashes of disassociation, our inarticulate inkling that every symbol is empty, every gesture a “meaningless pantomime.” He writes: “A man is talking on the telephone behind a glass partition; you cannot hear him, but you see his incomprehensible dumb show: you wonder why he is alive.”
Life sometimes seems a string of moments like these, moments that take us out of the world. But there are other times – moments of clarity and focus and capaciousness when life strikes us like a tuning fork and we chime, at once transcendent and physical: in the world: alive in the thisness and nowness of it.
Sometimes it happens in conversation. Sometimes we are alone on a park bench. Sometimes it is Wordsworthian: “one impulse from a vernal wood.” Sometimes Camus’ stranger in the telephone booth turns, and through the glass, smiles at you – and you feel wonder: he is alive – and your day, perhaps your life, is changed.
In any moment of magis, all distraction falls away. We are open to the new and the now. Magis is the perfect mode of being for the Canisius student, professor, staffer, alumnus, administrator.
Be ready for it.