The childhood joys of buying magic, and lessons we can learn from it.

photo-A teenage NickUpon becoming a magician you begin the lifelong pursuit of seeking out new tricks to perform. As a youngster this was accomplished by spending endless hours pouring over magic catalogues and deciding on the tricks one absolutely couldn’t live without. After sending away for it I would wait for the postman to deliver the precious box to my front door. In retrospect the best part of this entire process was the waiting. I would keep reading and re-reading the description of my latest purchase in the magic catalogue, visualizing every aspect of the next addition to my show. The entire process involved more anticipation than anyone could ever imagine.

Magic catalogues both then and now have a language all there own, partly truth and partly fiction!  Certain phrases are special flags to attract youthful customers. My favorites were; ‘Packs flat and plays big’, ‘can be performed surrounded’ and ‘Needs no resetting’. There was usually a list of ways in which the trick was not accomplished. This often included; ‘No threads’, ‘No magnets’ and ‘No mirrors’. They often threw in the phrase ‘No skill required’.

All this was enough to keep my mind racing for days. When the great day arrived and I finally ripped open the precious parcel my first reaction was usually sheer, stark disappointment. What was inside the package seemed like a waste of time and money and even if you could get it to work it wouldn’t fool the village idiot.

However one of the very early lessons in magic is that secrets cost money and you were stuck with it, because another ubiquitous phrase in magic catalogues was ‘No refunds and no exchanges’. Of course, magic dealers have to make their living somehow and I am not saying they are unscrupulous however I certainly wouldn’t let one of my daughters marry one of them. It was all enough to make you forsake magic and take up juggling or ventriloquism instead.

The strange part was that if you spent long enough with that seemingly useless trick, practicing and rehearsing it in front of a mirror, you sometimes ended up with something that actually worked!  Not always, in fact not often, but every now and then you would end up with ‘a keeper’. Even weirder was the way that sometimes a fellow magician would fool and impress you with a trick you had long since discarded either physically or mentally. That’s when you discovered that the magic dealer and postman may have brought the trick to your living room but it didn’t get much further unless you added a little something of your own.

It would be nice to say it all changes as you get older and wiser but it doesn’t.  I have a garage full of props that seemed like a great idea when I purchased them. The older you get the greater the amount money you spend on tricks you will never perform. Along the way though, there is something that does change, you start to develop a style and personality all you own. That is when the magic really begins to happen.

How does this subtle change occur? I believe that it has a lot to do with the power of visualization.  While it is difficult to see the future, with a little practice you can sometimes observe yourself in the present and project that image into the future. Standing in front of mirror you can observe not just who you are, but who you wish to become, this is an ability shared by other performers. Just watch any actor who doesn’t think he’s being observed and you will notice they seldom pass a mirror without a very serious glance at themselves. Who knows maybe a little bit of time travel is involved in this simple action of observation.

Unless I am much mistaken the core message of my teacher is contained in just six words. ‘I am’ ‘I can’ ‘I wish’. It is the intensity and order with which you utilize these three forces that creates your future and turns visualization into reality.  We will discuss these three forces in more detail later in the book but right now I want to see if the postman has delivered the mail. I am waiting for a package that contains a new trick that ‘packs flat and plays big.’

~ by Nick Lewin on March 18, 2013.

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