“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”— Leonardo da Vinci
We are delighted to have this week’s contribution from none other than our Dean of the Magic & Mystery School, Eugene Burger:
One Thing Needed
I have the opportunity to watch a great amount of magic performed each year. Happily, I really enjoy performances of magic. And I am still learning. Over the years, one thing I have realized is that very often a thoughtful performer can learn as much from watching bad performances of magic as we do from watching good ones. From bad performances, we can learn what we do not want to do and be – and learning what we don’t want can be a lesson that is be truly priceless.
Not only do I have the opportunity to watch magic, I often have the opportunity to talk to many magicians – and magicians from many countries. Perhaps, not surprisingly, I often hear the same comments from them:
“I want my magic performances to be better.”
“I want to take my magic to a new level.”
“I want to figure out who my character is.”
“I want my magic to have more power and impact.”
These are revealing comments. They lead us to big questions: questions that are exceedingly important if we do, indeed, want our performances of magic to have more power and impact. The problem is how to begin.
I am here reminded of a Buddhist teaching. In Buddhism, there is the Eight-Fold Path,” the path a believer must travel on the way to personal enlightenment. Yet, before one begins to travel this Path there is what might be thought of as a preliminary step, the step before the first “official” step – and this preliminary step is Right Association. To practice Right Association, we need to spend less time with negative people who bring us down and, instead, spend more time with positive people who want us to succeed and actualize some of our dreams.
To deal with these questions about our magic – and to answer them for ourselves – requires many things. It certainly requires sacrifice which may be different for each of us. Priorities will probably need to be arranged and rearranged. Yes, many elements are needed. Here, I want to consider one of them. I am not saying that other things aren’t more important but only that this is one thing very definitely needed. Perhaps it is more like the preliminary step of Right Association in Buddhism. What I want to consider is a sense of urgency.
A sense of urgency comes from the realization that I do not have forever. I do not have forever with my life and I do not have forever with my magic. If I am going to change my performances of magic so they have more power, then I must act. I must act now. I do not have forever. Perhaps the automobile that is going to run over me and kill me in three months is, at this very moment, having its final coat of paint applied in some factory in Michigan! And, if that were to happen, I would be dead and no one would ever get to see that great new performance!
A sense of urgency reminds me that I do not have forever and yet can become so caught up in my “thoughts about improvement” that I never take any real steps to improve. Instead, I become stuck in my thoughts. Perhaps trying to figure things out before I take that first real step.
Some of the magicians I meet in my travels have this sense of urgency. Most, I am afraid, do not. Perhaps they think they do have forever. Perhaps the dream of improvement is better than the work – and possible failure! – of improving. Perhaps they don’t think much at all.
Lacking a sense of urgency, one faces the danger of living in unfulfilled dreams, living in our thoughts.
And acting out of a sense of urgency can be the first step to changing our relation to our magic in truly amazing ways.
As a footnote, I realize that not all of the people reading these words are magicians. Some have no interest in performing magic at all. If you are one of these individuals, I wonder what a sense of urgency might do for you as you face the path you have chosen to travel.
Website Update from Bryce:
We just posted another wonderful Secret Art Journal article from Mario Morris: Mario’s Top Ten Tips for Street Performing.
Thank you, Eugene! One of the great pleasures of working with Jeff and Eugene on our Master Classes is that I get to listen to Eugene deliver talks just like the article above every time I go to Las Vegas. He always makes me think, and take my art just a bit more seriously after I listen to him. I’m sure it is the same for all of you!
“Squeak Technique” was originally going to be “Bravo,” the teaching of Jeff’s commedia dell’arte inspired handling of his ball and bowl routine, using a commedia character he developed and a special squeaker gimmick. But when he demonstrated the product at last summer’s IBM national convention, the enthusiasm for the squeakers themselves and their many uses was such that Jeff decided to hold back the product until he could add more material for the squeakers – and until we could actually find a source for them in bulk and actually include two of them with each DVD. The result is a DVD with twice as much material, and two of the special squeaker gimmicks. It is now available in our on line catalog: http://shop.yourmagic.com.
Jeff has also created two (actually three) new utility items for those of you who are into manipulation magic: Jeff McBride’s Palming Coins and his special new manipulation cards. There are two versions of the new cards, each designed with flesh-tone backs in a new ‘McBride’ design, and available both in the heavier weight Jeff uses for his card spinning and bouncing routine, and in an ultra-thin manipulation and fanning weight, unlike anything else currently on the market.
Beyond the new products, I should remind you: Now is the time to put together your Christmas Wish Lists, and few things can do more to help you take your magic to the next level than a visit to the McBride Magic & Mystery School. We now have the schedule posted on line for courses throughout the coming year. As I understand it, we even have one or two slots left for this year’s Master Class for Mentalists, October 13-15. If you’ve been thinking now is the time for a serious upgrade for your magic, please visit www.magicalwisdom.com right now and register for one of the upcoming classes. We have had to turn away students at the last several classes – they fill up quickly. So make sure you get in, and register early.
For our friends in Europe, Jeff will be over there with you very soon. First for the “Las Vegas in Bodoe” convention sponsored by the Magic Circle of Norway, and then for a tour that goes from Amsterdam to France to Denmark, Sweden and Hungary. Click the calendar for specifics of each stop. Jeff is both performing and teaching in almost every one of the locations where he stops, so sign up early for the workshops if he’s going to be near you.
That’s all from me for now. Best wishes for a magical fall season!