Look around you – I mean it- look around. Did you see anything magical going on? Is anything happening that is unexplainable? Maybe not, but if you pay attention, real moments of magic will happen right in front of you. Even though I have been performing magic for three years now, it took me those entire three years to experience a moment of real magic. I experienced a moment like this while performing a magic trick at a party for a man named Tom. I knew Tom was a retired police officer, he had slicked back hair right off of the Soprano’s, sat with his arms crossed, and wore a tough guy facade that I was about to bring down. I performed a trick for Tom at his kitchen table. In the trick, I “blindfolded” myself by placing two playing cards between my eyes and the sunglasses I was wearing. Next, Tom and another volunteer each chose a card and then replaced their card in the deck. Later, their cards vanished from the deck and were found to be the two cards I had earlier put between my eyes and sunglasses. After I removed the cards from between my sunglasses, you would have thought I was a comic genius like Rodney Dangerfield or Jerry Seinfeld because Tom laughed hysterically and literally cried over the trick. I never would have expected that kind of reaction out of him.. At that moment, I realized what magic was all about.
On the surface, one might think this was a more magical moment for Tom than it was for me. After all, I know how the trick is done, so how could it be more magical for me? It was more magical for me since around that time I had the blues about performing magic and I was on the verge of giving it up. I did not seem to grasp the value in magic anymore. After performing that trick for Tom, all the tumblers fell into place and I said to myself, “That’s it! This is what it’s all about..” It was an epiphany. For me, magic was no longer about impressing anyone, getting paid, or learning secrets. Magic was about connecting with someone else and giving them an uplifting moment away from reality. My experience with Tom was supporting evidence to an assertion by magician Jeff McBride, who said, “… always leave a room in a better condition than when you entered it. Uplift all the folks in the room with your magic; you will be uplifted soon” (McBride).I realized then with Tom, regardless of what I did in life, the ability to create a magic moment like that with someone else would be necessary for me.
My experience with Tom also brought me closer to understanding an assertion by magician Tenkai Ishidi who wrote, ” Magic is not tricks, it is a way” (Burger 4). Indeed, the word “trick” seems to undermine the beauty a great magic effect can bring to an audience. The word “way” here is a even more philosophical thought to ponder. Magician Eugene Burger gives his insight into the “way” of the magician saying:
…it requires so much thought and work and more thought and more work. It demands that we try and fail and then try again and then probably fail again.. And then keep on working and trying with absolutely no guarantee of final success. You might wonder why any magician is crazy enough even to follow this way. And my answer is: They have to. It isn’t so much a decision as an inward calling” (Burger 4).
Very true. After performing for Tom, it seemed that I did not make a decision to continue magic; instead, magic called me. If I can focus my magic to bring a positive influence upon others then I certainly consider that a way of life. Eugene Burger refers to his own writing as a footnote to Ishidi’s quote.
In 2007, I was fortunate enough to spend a weekend at the Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was fortunate since I was able to convince my Dad travel to Las Vegas, the moral toilet he despises. The head teachers of the Magic and Mystery School are Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger. Magicians young and old, beginner and professional, from all over the globe come to learn at Jeff’s own home, which is called “The House of Mystery”. It is a weekend class, or it can be a full week class, providing private lectures, video feed-back of your performance, special performances from Jeff and Eugene, and much more. I vividly remember watching Jeff, Eugene, and others perform in Jeff’s living room, by candlelight, surrounded by all the strange masks that decorate his walls. It was my first time watching a professional magician perform in person and boy that was an eye opener. I saw what a great, polished, piece of magical showmanship can be. I raved to my parents afterwards about their amazing show since only the students were allowed to watch.
Strangely, it was soon after attending The Magic and Mystery School that I got the blues about performing magic. It would seem that going to this class would have further motivated me to learn and perform magic. In fact, that experience with Tom was almost a year after I returned from the Magic and Mystery School. I went to Mystery School hoping to improve my stage-magic and enter magic competitions. However, a contributor to my blues was learning that the stage-magic routine I had practiced for months and months in preparation for the class was an impractical dream routine. A dream routine typically has too many tricks, requires music, the proper venue, and includes tricks that are easy to screw up. My routine had all of those qualities, and I simply had too many tricks crammed into a short four minute routine. I realized that I needed to go back to the close-up magic I had neglected. Close-up magic is performed close to audience and provides more interaction than stage-magic. To put it in laymen’s terms, moving to stage-magic without close-up magic experience, would be like going from high school basketball straight to the NBA. Close-up magic would allow me to perform an act in front of audiences much more than a stage-magic routine would. The lessons of crafting a routine in a close-up magic setting could later be applied to the stage. My new journey is understanding close-up magic before moving on to stage-magic. So, my dream stage-magic routine had been shot down, that was tough. Do not get me wrong, the class was a blast; however, when I came back home I felt something was missing.
I later realized something that fulfilled that empty feeling I came home with. Which is, however cliché it may sound, that life really is about the journey and not the destination. I learned this by observing how much I wanted to do a stage-magic routine and enter magic competitions. But, in chasing my dream stage-magic routine, I was missing out on the journey of performing magic more regularly in the close-up magic setting. The journey is the unforgettable moments that have an effect on our future, such as my experience with Tom. The destination is a mystery and I think that is what keeps us all going.
As I was leaving Jeff’s home on the last day of the class Jeff invited me to take a gift out of a box. I searched and searched, and finally found the perfect one. It was a green rubber bracelet that had written on it “Solve et Coagula” which means dissolve and coagulate.. This phrase defined exactly what I needed to do with my magic. I needed to dissolve my stage-magic routine and slowly coagulate a new one. But first, I have to go back to close-up magic and perform more shows to learn what kind of magic is practical for me. What a perfect gift. Thanks Jeff.