Dear Friends & Colleagues:
Any month that begins with a few words of wisdom from our Dean, the inimitable Eugene Burger, is, in my estimation, a month that is full of promise.
CREATION AND DESTRUCTION
My living room window faces the Three Arts Club of Chicago. Designed in 1912 by John Holabird, of the Holabird and Roche architecture firm, it is an imposing building in the Byzantine style which surrounds a lovely outdoor courtyard. The original mission of the Three Arts Club was to provide support and residence for young women coming to the city to study the three arts: music, painting and drama. The last resident left in 2003 and the building has been empty since then.
Various proposals of what to do with this structure have come and gone over the years. Of the proposals, my favorite was turning the building into a columbarium to hold the urns containing the ashes of the dead. Not surprisingly, I was very positive about this idea and felt real disappointment when it fell by the wayside.
The building is now under a major multi-million dollar renovation with the expectation that it will be finished by the Summer of 2015.
Last week, a huge banner, dozens of yards long and about eight or nine feet high, was put up on the side of the building. The side that faces my apartment. On the banner, in letters that are at least two feet high, there is a quote attributed to Pablo Picasso:
“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”
Below that, in slightly smaller letters is the invitation:
“See what destruction hath wrought Summer 2015”
I expect that these signs will be facing my apartment until the project is completed this coming Summer. Happily, I will be traveling and out of the city for almost all of this time. Traveling does have its benefits.
For the past week, viewing this sign each morning, I began to wonder: Is every act of creation “first of all an act of destruction”? It’s a fascinating question, don’t you think?
In the stories of India (which, by the way, have literally taken me around the world), Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer who destroys so Brahma might create again.
I don’t know about “every” act of creation but, certainly, many acts of creation involve acts of destruction. Imagine, for example, that I do want to create something, create something of value — perhaps create the presentation for a magic trick. Imagine that I have a piece of magic that has been ready to perform for some time except that I really don’t have any sort of presentation for it that pleases me. In short, I am stuck.
What do I need to “destroy” if I want to succeed in my creation of this magic presentation? What am I willing to sacrifice?
The answer might be any number of things. It all depends upon me.
I may need to destroy the amount of time I spend on the Internet.
I may need to destroy the amount of time I spend watching television.
I may need to destroy the amount of time I spend reading.
And, perhaps most painful for many of us, I may need to destroy the amount of time I spend with friends.
There are many, many things I may need to “destroy” if I am to reach my goal.
And this brings us to what I have always thought was a deep paradox of human existence:
I want change but I don’t want to do anything differently!
Or, to put it the another way: I want things to be different but I don’t want to change anything major in my life.
And the truth seems to be that none of us can have it both ways. If I truly want to create something of value with my magic, if I want change, then I must be willing to begin doing some things in my life differently! Perhaps I need to look with new eyes at how I “spend” my time.
Perhaps it really is that simple.
So tomorrow morning when I wake up and look out my window and see that large sign with Pablo Picasso’s message, perhaps I won’t be so negative about it. Perhaps I will realize that the message is there not only for those who pass down the street but also, and perhaps especially, just for me!
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“This is how I feel when I’m at war… I am so over this!”
I’M SO DONE WITH FIGHTING….
As you may have read, for the past few years I have felt like I’m in a war. A war of egos… and lawyers. I am ending it right now! These fights over the theft of magic have been well-documented on the internet and on television.
One of the many reasons I’m making my performance pieces available is to end the drama of continued legal battles. I would rather grant proper permission to people to perform these effects – than to spend my time trying to stop people when they steal them.
“This is how it feels when I empower others with my magic!”
THE MCBRIDE MAGICAL MASTERPIECE SERIES
What this series is:
If my type of magic calls to you, please click on the link below for more information:
Yours in better magic.
Greetings Magical Friends,
Abigail here, writing from the House of Mystery, while Jeff is performing and teaching in Florida for a few days….
“I cannot tell you anything that, in a few minutes, will tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful… It’s the only totally reliable get-rich-quick scheme.”
—Ben Stein, actor, comedian, economist
Once again, we are approaching my favorite time of year, a time when just for one day, we turn our focus to gratitude and giving thanks. My awareness around gratitude has been deepening lately, and I am noticing the effects this has on my life. One of the practices I learned many years ago was to make a list, from A-Z of things I am grateful for, everything from Air that I breathe to the fact that Zebras exist at all… and now, this practice is growing, as I ask myself, “Why am I grateful for this?” (Water, because it hydrates, cleanses and makes things sparkle!) Deepening into the “why” seems to bring me into more and more awareness. When I am grateful, I feel happier, more in tune with just how blessed and fortunate I am. I’m not the only who has noticed this correlation. In his fine work, Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Robert Emmons has a lot to say about it, and I highly recommend it.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
I want to encourage all of us to bring up the frequency of gratitude in our lives, not just once a year for one day, but consistently, consciously, constantly. I really do believe that when we are tuned into how good life is, we are more inclined to be kind, helpful and present with all those we encounter, and there is so much to be thankful for.
Brother David is one of my favorite teachers about gratitude, and this is one my favorite works:
Today, my gratitude goes out for my beloved, darling husband, who I appreciate, respect and admire; for our students and faculty who make the Magic & Mystery School; for my health, my home, the happiness that is mine on a daily basis, for the willingness to celebrate even the smallest victories, and the ability to breathe, dance and live in this amazing world.
I am especially grateful that my parents decided to have me start piano lessons when I was four, as that decision has led me to be the musician and singer that I am. If you’d like to hear some of my music, you can find it here:
Wishing you the gift of knowing how fortunate you are, at Thanksgiving time and always…