Good Things Come in Green Plastic Bags

Dear Friends:
Welcome to the holiday season! We have a special treat for you this month—an article from our own physician magician, Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz.

Good Things Come in Green Plastic Bags
by Ricardo Rosenkranz, MD

They all came in a green plastic bag. Eugene’s gifts all came in a green plastic bag. I really don’t know where he got them, but every time I left that apartment on 1260 N. Dearborn with a gift, it was in a green plastic bag. Eugene loved gifts. Mostly, he loved passing gifts down to others. I can’t tell you how many times I entered Eugene’s apartment and observed that laid out on his desk were a couple of items–perhaps a book he had just read, a coin routine someone gave him, or a prop that was no longer needed. Eugene believed that gifts should be passed on, and in his case, they all were wrapped at the end of the session in a tidy green plastic bag, with a note.

As I reflect on Eugene’s legacy, I envision some of the majestic gifts I received from Eugene. These are the ones that cannot fit inside a green plastic bag. In this season of giving, and in this year of needed vision, here are three of those gifts.

The gift of perspective. Undoubtedly, the main reason why I am still deeply involved with magic comes from the perspective that I gained from two decades of working with Eugene. When I entered his apartment for the first time, I was intrigued by magic, but I didn’t really know what it meant. or where it could lead me. From that first day, Eugene made me realize that magic wasn’t a trivial hobby to be pursued on rare occasion, but rather, it was a powerful artistic expression that could unlock meaning for performer and audience member alike. It was Eugene, who over time made me realize that even as I am a healer in Medicine, so too could I become a healer in Magic.

Eugene gave me the gift to see magic in perspective, from the smallest angle in a Ramsay Subtlety, to the largest vista of the role magic can play in the narrative of human illness. This gift arrived incessantly from day one. Today, as I see my life in magic, and my life in medicine, there are days when I feel boxed in. I conjure up Eugene’s words in my mind, and the very first thing to arrive is much needed perspective.

The gift of discernment. Eugene and I played a game for many years. It was called “The good, the bad, and the ugly”. It was a type of show and tell that either one of us brought. Usually, I brought the bad and the ugly. In this activity, we would look at magic that fell into any of these three categories. Eugene believed that in order to learn to appreciate good magic, it was important to study bad magic as well. Whenever I came across something that was poorly designed or poorly implemented, we would explore it. Sometimes, we would rehabilitate the illusion, like nursing a bird with a broken wing, back to health. Here and there I would get lucky and bring something to Eugene so special that he would insert it into his repertoire. I take pride, for example, that Eugene’s performance of “Greed” was based on one of our “Good, Bad, Ugly” sessions.

In spending time discussing the merits and failings of multiple magical illusions, Eugene gifted me a skill to discern, a skill to filter or discard when necessary, and a skill to value the essence of a magical concept, and amplify it toward success. Being a successful magician requires the ability to discern what works for us and what doesn’t. Eugene was brutally economical in this endeavor, and it is a gift that has helped me navigate choices inside and outside of magic.

The gift of acceptance. In spite of all the rigor that he applied to performance choices, Eugene had an uncanny ability to be open and accepting. Eugene displayed a mystical mindset when faced with adversity or with the unexpected. In the two decades that he was in my life, I never saw Eugene allow himself more than a moment’s worth of brooding when something was amiss. Hearing Eugene say, “….and that’s OK with me,” with that raspy voice and the upward tonal inflection on the “OK,” became a soothing balm for me. I marvel at Eugene’s ability to adapt and to learn incessantly from life and its obstacles. More importantly, I learned so much from his ability to move on–always looking forward. In acceptance, Eugene taught me perhaps the most important lesson of a lifetime.

So, in Eugene’s tradition, I would like to keep these gifts alive by passing them along, albeit transformed. I would like to gift you with an image. Hopefully it’s a powerful image that transports you to a place and time when you might have been open to Eugene’s lessons, as I was.

Imagine I have gifted you a green plastic bag. It belonged to Eugene. Excitedly, you open the bag, knowing that inside you will find something lovingly handed down by Eugene. You remove the handwritten note on a 3×5 card. Black ink with impeccable handwriting, which must be Eugene’s handwriting. The note reads, “A magical mirror, for you. Love, EB”. You lift the mirror and see within it your reflection. And yet, it’s a different you. It is the best version of you. What do you see?

Eugene gave me that metaphorical mirror. And every day, I gaze into that mirror with perspective, discernment, and acceptance. I have come to understand how the Ricardo holding the mirror can continue to evolve into the Ricardo who dwells inside.

Happy Holidays!

From Ricardo

Comments are closed.