“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
— Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
As you read this, we are all entering a new year. It will not be like any year you’ve encountered before. Things will change, and so will you. If this year is anything like the last few, you’ll find things changing at an accelerating rate. So you’ll have some choices to make: Will you strive to remain the same, and attempt to slow down the change that’s happening around you? Or race forward in an effort to keep up, to go along, to stay with the crowd? I’m hoping many of you will take yet another path: That you stop, consider, and make the choice to consciously create the changes in yourselves and your world that you feel need to be changed.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
— Leo Tolstoy
I’m about to publish my book, The Wizard’s Way, which is a guide to becoming one of those powerful, potent individuals we think of as wizards. This seems a good time to take a few moments and introduce you to some of the ideas from the book that I think you may find to be of use.
Lest you think I’m speaking of your becoming some old man with a long white beard, wearing a robe and making mystic passes over a cauldron while chanting wild incantations — consider that, while Merlyn & Gandalf are amongst the models I use for what it is to be a wizard, far more interesting and useful are the examples of Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Eve Ensler and Steve Jobs. In Jobs’ words, these are all individuals who “Made a dent in the universe.” People who exerted more than their fair share of influence over the changes in our world.
None of these people just found themselves “in the right place at the right time,” which seems to be the conventional wisdom about such things. No, each one made specific choices that led them to become what they were. Each one did more than just wish to change the world. They took action. And the actions they took all started with themselves.
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
— John F. Kennedy
Each one encountered significant pushback from their communities. Each one chalked up as many failures as they did successes. But each one did some things most of us do not. Each one developed his or her own vision. Each one educated themselves (note, I do not say “was educated”) and learned to view the world from different perspectives than those around them. Each worked from a creative, proactive frame of mind, choosing action, even when the path forward was not already clearly laid out. Each one took personal responsibility for the course of his or her life, and for creating the change they believed they needed to make in their worlds.
So I would ask each one of you: What are you doing to create the life you want to have – both in magic and in the context of your personal life? Have you taken the time to define your vision? Are you doing things each day that will move you along the path you want to follow in life? Are you seeking out and spending time with the people who can help you educate yourself with the knowledge and skills you really need? Do you waste time complaining, or “waiting for that big break,” — or are taking action to create that big break yourself?
Two of the more interesting wizards in The Wizard’s Way are people most of you already know: Jeff McBride and George Parker. Both have served not only as examples of how true wizards operate in the world, but also as consultants who helped me develop the ideas and techniques taught in the book. It’s not an accident that both George and Jeff were such large influences in developing my ideas for the book. In fact, all of the staff: Jeff, Abbi, Eugene, George, Bryce and Larry Hass have been large contributors. And each one already walks the wizard’s path. In fact, it is a large part of the philosophy that governs the directions of the McBride Magic & Mystery School.
You see, we have a common vision. As we like to say, we’re dedicated to helping to raise the level of magic, one magician at a time. Each of us encounters hundreds of other magicians in the course of our work, both in performance and in our teaching. We do our best to be the best examples we can of a kind of magic that goes beyond the art of deception, and that redefines the magician’s job as one of creating magical experiences. Deception is certainly an important tool, but it by no means the only one in the tool kit of an effective magician. That’s why, although we do teach a lot of tricks and deception techniques, we also spend time teaching stage presence, showmanship, story telling, as well as business and marketing techniques for magicians.
For me, at least, this is an important distinction. The magic that consists only of tricks and illusions is a magic that is light entertainment, at best. There’s nothing wrong with that. For me, though, and I think it’s safe to say, for the rest of us at the McBride Magic & Mystery School, magic is a deeper and more important form of art and expression than mere light entertainment. It is a very special kind of theater, capable of eliciting strong emotion and inspiring real transformation in those who experience it.
Part of our growth as artists, then, comes from a constant questioning. A constant quest, not only for new techniques, but for new kinds of experiences we can create. A quest to redefine why we do magic, what it means to each of us. Reading books about life outside magic — history, philosophy, novels and science. Because magic is our medium, but life is the subject.
As we enter this new year, we will continue to grow, to evolve, ourselves and the experiences we are able to create with the McBride Magic & Mystery School. You can help. You can let us know about your ideas for what you would like to see more of. More live classes in Las Vegas? More “on the road” events, where we bring our shows and workshops to you? More online learning? More advanced technique classes, or basic technique classes? More on the history and philosophy of our art? What subjects are we not covering enough that are important to you? Have you got any brilliant ideas for ways we can expand our impact, how we can be more effective in reaching our stated goals?
Let us know!
And, in the meantime, please accept our best wishes to all of you for a most magical and wonderful new year! These interesting times are sure to continue — but we’re sure you have what it takes to see them as exciting challenges that will help enrich your lives and your art. We’re excited and grateful to all of you who stay with us, reading the Museletter, attending classes and supporting our efforts.
Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Tobias Beckwith &
All the staff & faculty of the McBride Magic & Mystery School
PS: If you’ll be in Southern California between January 13-19, don’t miss us in our annual “Magic & Mystery School Week” at the Magic Castle! Jeff, Abbi, Larry, Bryce, George and Eugene will be joined by Jordan Wright, Michael Carbonaro, Tim Wise and Bill Cook in a special week where we bring our own special brand of magic to Hollywood.
After that, Jeff will be touring in Europe, with a special class in Germany from Feb. 13-19, then the Blackpool Convention in the U.K. Followed by a series of lectures around the UK. Check his calendar at the right for further information.