Waiting for the Post(man)!

Upon becoming a magician you begin a lifelong pursuit of seeking out new tricks to perform. For me, as a youngster, this was accomplished by spending endless hours pouring over magic catalogs 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. My life as a magician began way before the instant gratification of instant downloads.

In retrospect, the best part of this entire process was, in fact, the anticipation of the waiting. I would keep reading and re-reading the description of my latest purchase in the magic catalog, visualizing every aspect of the next addition to my show. The entire process involved more anticipation than anyone could ever imagine.

Magic catalogs both then and now have a language all there own, and like Kris Kristofferson and Travis Bickle, they are 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 re-setting’. 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 also 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. Nowadays there is the added excitement of observing the difference between how a trick looks on the video trailer that looked so amazing online, and the depressingly angle prone piece of magic that you received as a download. As long as the effect is seen at exactly the angle that the footage was shot at in the online trailer, all goes well! However, for real-life performance, you might as well forget it!

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 catalogs 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 of 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 the 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 act of observation.

Magic is a very special art form and one that almost always requires time to fully develop what can be achieved with physical and psychological observation. It is a rather mystical process.

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 create your future and turns visualization into reality. I could discuss these three forces in more detail 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 August 5, 2017.

2 Responses to “Waiting for the Post(man)!”

  1. I well remember perusing the Douglas Magicland catalogue back in the day and also those long days waiting for the postman to deliver the ordered goodies. And I remember, as you, the disappointment I sometimes felt. You are so correct, it never changes even as we age. Thanks for the memories!

  2. I wish I had kept all those old catalogues!

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