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How To Be Invisible

Updated on August 28, 2017
CJStone profile image

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

The following story was written as a column for Prediction magazine, but never published. One of the Editors was on holiday at the time and had sent around a circular saying that, unless you knew the secret of invisibility, or something equally portentous, we should leave her alone. I wrote back to say that I did and did she want me to write it down?

To be honest, the story originates with Idries Shah, the Sufi writer from the 70s, from his book The Sufis. His version wasn't as succinct as mine. Also I've changed the central figure from a Sufi to a Magician.

The reason Prediction magazine rejected the story is that they felt it was negative "Is that all there is to it?" they asked. What do you think? I think it is rather sweet and touching, and it shows that anyone can leant the secret of invisibility if they apply themselves with diligence and grace. It also, coincidently, describes my attitude to life.

Some of the reactions to it in the comments below are positive, other extremely negative. There's a survey at the bottom of the page and I'd be interested in hearing your views.

Have I discovered the secret of invisibility or not?

You tell me.

The magician's apprentice

There was once a famous magician.

It doesn't matter what the country was, nor the period: what matters is that the practice of magic was illegal at the time, and that the soldiers of the country in which he lived were charged with wiping it out.

The magician lived in on the outskirts of a small village, in an out-of-the-way corner of the country. In other words, he was free to practice his magic, despite the fact that it was illegal. The soldiers hardly ever came this way, and when they did, they were usually only passing through.

People came to him from miles around, to consult with him, to be cured by him, and to have him cast his spells for them. He was a white magician, meaning that he only ever cast spells for the benefit of mankind, and never for personal gain.

He wore a patched cloak, walked with a staff, and carried a book of spells under his arm.

He was also famous because it was reputed that he knew a very secret spell called ‘How To be Invisible'. It was said that only the most powerful magicians knew this spell.

One day a young man from one of the neighbouring villages came to him. He said he wanted to learn this spell. He said wanted to learn how to be invisible.

The magician smiled.

‘That is indeed a very powerful spell,' he said. ‘It takes many years of training and hard work to master it. First of all you must become my apprentice, and only when I feel that the time is right will I teach you how to be invisible.'

So the young man agreed to become the magician's apprentice.

Years passed. The young man learned many complex and difficult spells. He learned to read the heavens and to understand the deep forces at work in the world. He learned to listen to the trees and to the birds and to all the wild animals of the forest and to hear their secret words of wisdom. He learned how to cast spells to bring rain, to clear the blight of sickness from the land, to help lonely people to find love and sad people to find happiness. He too became a magician in his own right. He too earned the right to wear the magician's cloak, to walk with the staff, and to carry his own book of spells beneath his arm. But still his master never taught him the greatest spell of all: how to be invisible.

Over the years he tired of asking for this spell. Whenever he asked the question his master only answered with an enigmatic smile.

‘When the time is right,' he would say.

In the end the young man gave up. He began to suspect that there really was no such spell, that maybe it was some sort of a trick, just a means to lure unsuspecting youngsters like himself into the art, so that they too could learn the secrets of magic.

Then, one day, many years later, as they were walking down the road, in the distance they spied a troop of soldiers marching down the road towards them.

‘Quick,' said the magician to his apprentice, ‘now is the time for us to be invisible.'

And he took off his patched cloak, folded it up and hid it in the ditch beside the road, along with his staff and his book, urging his friend to do the same.

Ten minutes later the soldiers came trooping by, their heavy equipment rattling and clanking as they trudged passed in unison.

The magician and his apprentice saluted the troops, who hardly threw them a second glance. They were too busy marching.

Once they were gone passed, the magician turned to his friend.

‘There,' he said, ‘that is how to be invisible.'

Sometimes the best magic is the simplest of all.

Does this story demonstrate the real secret of invisibility?

See results

© 2008 CJStone

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    • profile image

      Sohail Saha 4 years ago

      Your story has a witty twist.....

    • quester.ltd profile image

      quester.ltd 5 years ago

      quiet, quiet, quiet - Good job well told

      q

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      I think you're quite young DYB. In a few years time you'll look back on this story and know that I was right.

    • profile image

      DYB 5 years ago

      This is the dumbest thing ever how stupid are you CJ Stone

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Glad you like it Allen. Yes, I think this is the real way to be invisible.

    • allenwebstar profile image

      allenwebstar 5 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Enjoyed your story sir, how nicely you presented. This question always comes in my mind, How to be invisible and finally I got the right answer. Good share.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      pikon103: being invisible is not being seen, and this story tells you how to do that.

    • profile image

      pikon103 5 years ago

      sir, its a nice story. i like it. but it would be more nice if it was really becoming invisible.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Thanks!

    • quester.ltd profile image

      quester.ltd 5 years ago

      loved it!

      q

    • profile image

      cuty 6 years ago

      very creative story...i thought that the secreat of "invisible" will be revealed...it revealed..but not the way i thought...but it gives a good lesson to all!

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      It was meant to be unexpected.

    • Mason88 profile image

      Mason88 7 years ago from London

      Nice story. I thought the ending was very good, unexpected but maybe i'm just very poor at anticipating a story-line.

    • nicolace profile image

      nicolace 7 years ago from Teddington, UK

      very nice Hub just hit the spot. N

    • Christopher Floyd profile image

      Christopher Floyd 7 years ago from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

      Kinda anticlimactic, but I think that was the point. I enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      cora laki 7 years ago

      ok!

      thank you very much

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Let me know when you've written it cora.

    • profile image

      cora laki 7 years ago

      i was thinking of writing a story my self that is about.... well ill tell you once iv wrote it haha

    • profile image

      cora laki 7 years ago

      wow i understant completley it is a very good story i think you will be a sucsessful writer could yo give me some tips?

    • HubCrafter profile image

      HubCrafter 7 years ago from Arizona

      Just found this hub today. I enjoyed it immensely. Like a child with a new storybook.

      HubCrafter

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Glad you enjoyed. Nothing like a good old cuckle in the morning.

    • hotspur profile image

      hotspur 7 years ago from England

      Thanks for the story, made me cuckle...chuckle even.

    • theguru-reports profile image

      theguru-reports 7 years ago from Montana

      Good work...today I just want to BE visible :-0

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      I'm sure you'll find your cloak, staff and book one day, but the point is to know when not to wear them.

    • jenblacksheep profile image

      jenblacksheep 8 years ago from England

      This is a great story. Like several others commenting before me I think I need to find my cloak, staff and book!!

    • profile image

      cosette 8 years ago

      I LUV THIS HUB. GREAT GREAT GREAT!!! (I rated it UP too)...

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for a great story CJ! I love your Hubs and this is a great one.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      I have considered writing for children Barb H, but it is harder than it sounds. One day maybe...

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Aye, one of the best Chandira. I still have a follow up to write at some point.

    • profile image

      Chandira 8 years ago

      That's a good one, that is Sir. I like. Indeed.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      justmesuzanne. yes I'm interested in the cards.

      Thanks to you too alana.

      Glad you liked it anjalichugh.

    • profile image

      alana 8 years ago

      thanks

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

      Lovely story and illustration! Are you interested in cards at all, or did you just follow through with the Amazon ads because of the Magician card?

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. ingenious...that's what I call it.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Ah so many interpretations countrywoman, they can't all be right can they? Or can they?

      Thanks Feline. Glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      You tell a compelling tale CJ! :)

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 8 years ago from Washington, USA

      I liked the ending. Nice twist in the end. So what you mean is by shedding our superficial outer coverings when we become normal then nobody would notice us. Hence to be normal is to become invisible.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Hi Jewels, yes, it means all that and more. And more again.

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 9 years ago from Australia

      I loved your story. Has a few facets to it's meaning and so I could take what it meant for me. To be invisible is to become normal or part of the crowd. Here the student felt that by learning how to be invisible it would be something extraordinary, paradoxically it was by becoming normal that the invisibility occurred. To become extraordinary, first one must become ordinary.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Tony, I know that feeling.

    • profile image

      tony granieri 9 years ago

      Is this the same as being invisible in plain sight. When i was much younger, it always bothered me when people acted as if i was not "there". I now know what a gift it can be.

    • SpotCoolStuff.com profile image

      SpotCoolStuff.com 9 years ago from San Francisco, CA USA

      You are a good writer, CJ.

      Myself, I'm still working on the spell: How To Become Visible

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

      Hi CJ. I'm working my through your hubs, and just got to this one, which I really liked. As a hypnotist, I've learned that visibility is very often just a trick of the mind, and on that subject, have you ever come across Derren Brown's Invisible Man clip? It's on Youtube, and makes for fascinating, though, scary viewing!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 9 years ago from India

      What a wonderful story teller you are to be sure!

      Being invisible can be quite comforting - it means you can see without being seen or stared at :)

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 9 years ago from Oregon, USA

      I totally get this hub. In fact, I knew what the punch line was going to be from the get go. But thank you for writing it. You told it very well. I don't think there is a big moral. I personally am invisible most of the time even when I don't wanna be.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 9 years ago

      Hi. A hub that I can identify myself with. I'm always invisible. :)

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Hello spryte, I guess the secret is in knowing when to be invisible and when not. Also in having the choice. Fortunately I still do. I'm still thinking of writing a follow-up to this hub. Thanks for visiting.

    • spryte profile image

      spryte 9 years ago from Arizona, USA

      I really loved this piece...you have a very gentle way about you that draws people in, wraps them in a cozy blanket and offers them a cup of hot tea to wrap their hands around.

      This piece reminded me of a particular scene in a movie...Harold and Maude. They are discussing flowers and Harold says that he would like to be a daisy...because they are all alike. Maude points out that they are not truly...and that much of the world's sorrow comes from people that are unique, but allow themselves to be treated as if they were just a face in a sea of sameness. The scene then cuts to a military cemetary where all you see is row after row of identical grave markers stretching on into infinity...

      While there is definitely a survival benefit to being occasionally invisible...I hope I never have to resort to it.

      Thanks for a great read!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      But ya have to look really close...they WON'T be "invisible". =) =) =)

      Now I'm off to read "The Last Of The Hippies". Nice pic inside the back cover, btw.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Glad you liked it bright sorcerer. I think you might find metaphorical beverages available at the other hubs.

    • bright_sorcerer profile image

      bright_sorcerer 9 years ago from London, Canada

      I second JamaGenee's comment...I'd be very curious about the story behind it. Really enjoyed this, on a number of levels. This is the first hub of yours that I've read and it definitely won't be the last. Thanks again for a bit of enlightenment on perception. At least that's what my interpetation, for what it's worth. You do serve a complimentary beverage at your other hubs? My small attempt at humour. I did enjoy this, though, and will be doing a CJStone tour in the very near future.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Yes, do!

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      No, but there's the story of how this one came about, and my realisation, after I'd written it, of what it meant to me. I might still write that. But thanks for your kind words JamaGenee. It all helps.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Loved it!

      It IS a departure from your other pieces, but as we're learning (with great delight!), you're a man of many talents!

      Don't write a follow up. As Jerry Lewis liked to say: 'For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation will be sufficient'.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      You're right: no one has had a go at imposing a moral on this story yet. I've been thinking of writing a follow-up, after I wrote it, I realised that it was the philosophy which had guided my life. 'm still thinking about it.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile image

      Rhym O'Reison 9 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I was wondering why you didn't respond to my comment, and then I realized that you weren't ignoring me, you just couldn't see it.  (Invisible reference)

         I like that you didn't give the moral.  It is too easy to skim over a moral story and be like, "hmmm, that is pretty good.....for the next guy."  This way, our consciences will decide what the moral should be for each of us. (Point in fact being that no one wanted to venture what it should be.)

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Thankyou shadesbreath.

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 9 years ago from California

      Very nice work. Entertaining yet effectively to the point.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Thank you Woody. I like your stories too.

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like this story! Thanks for sharing!

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Sorry, Monitor, I'm fairly new here and I seem to have left you out. The question is whether you can control your invisibility or not. f you can it's good. If you can't - like the vast majority of the world's poor I suspect - then it is not a good thing at all.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Thank you pgrundy and thank you seohowto, I feel a little bit less invisible now for your comments. Mind you, I can still turn it on whenever I want it. It wouldn't do to be TOO visible.

    • seohowto profile image

      seohowto 9 years ago from Bay Area, CA

      very creative, I really enjoyed reading this hub!

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      Ha! Fabulous! Could only have been written by one who has had to practice this skill until it was second nature. Just so you know though, the rest of us invisible people CAN still see you.

    • CJStone profile image
      Author

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Hi, yes, it's a little different, but what I realised after writing it is that it is something I've lived by all by life. There's great power in being "invisible" in this way.

    • monitor profile image

      monitor 9 years ago from The world.

      This was a very clever story with a great moral, CJStone. Now the only question is whether or not being invisible is a good thing... I'll be looking out for more of your 'magic'.

      Your fan.

      Mon.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 9 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I really enjoyed that one - a bit different to the sort of stuff you usually write!