Living in Interesting Times

“Until you are willing to be confused about what you already know, what you know will never grow bigger, better, or more useful.”
~ Milton Erickson Quotes from A Joseph Campbell Companion

Greetings, Friends! 

Tobias here – Jeff and Abbi are busy hosting “Mysterium” in Las Vegas as I write this from my new office, looking out into a stand of sunny redwoods here in central California.

The immediate reason for writing is, of course, current news:

You can catch Jeff on television again this week. On February 2nd, he’ll be one of the featured performers on “Masters of Illusion,” along with Kalin & Jinger, Farrell Dillion, Hillel, Krystyn Lambert, Amazing Jonathan, Guy Bavli, and some of our other favorite magicians. If you love a good magic show, this one promises to be just that. It’s on the MyNetworkTV (one of the FOX family). As they say “check your local listings” for the exact time in your neighborhood.

Also be sure to tune in to the DOC channel, if you can, on February 9th, for the premiere broadcast of “Women in Boxes,” a documentary film by Blaire Baron Larsen about women who are and have been magicians’ assistants over the past 50 years. Both Jeff and Abbi can be seen in short interview segments. I saw the film at its premiere in Las Vegas last summer, and it’s fascinating. 

NOW: Let’s get back to the quote above. There’s an ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” The implication is that it is a wish for your life to be filled with upheaval and turmoil. 

Well…we certainly do live in interesting times! The economy is in worse shape than it has been since the 1930’s. People are losing their homes and fortunes. I’ve just moved away from security and long time friends in Las Vegas to explore new environments and new possibilities here in the Bay Area. At the same time, we have a new president, a commitment to change for the better – and at the same time, just when we’re at our lowest, and call to responsibility – to taking on the task of each creating our own highest visions and dreams. Not an easy task at any time – but a special kind of challenge right now, just when we’re ALL feeling kind of “down and out.” 

I’d say we might all be forgiven if we’re feeling a bit confused. But as Milton Erickson implies in his quote above – this may be just what we all NEED if we are to allow what we know to become bigger, better and more useful! 

And so my call to all of you – our friends on this magical journey through life – is to cast aside the depression and confusion of the dark times we’ve just been through. Be prepared to re-examine and re-consider all the things you think you know. Embrace the confusing new ideas, new environments, and see what is here to be learned. And allow yourselves to grow. Growth is transformation – and transformation is magic. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what magic means to me lately. My clients are all a very special breed of performing magician who can take magic beyond tricks and illusions and use it to achieve a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to lead an audience to some kind of enlightenment. Other times it is to help a corporation deliver a particular message. Still other times, it is to wake people up about their own interactions with their friends and families, or to their own innate abilities. 

I find I’ve become a firm believer that the real magician only uses tricks and illusions as tools to achieve his or her purposes. Magic doesn’t lie in the trick any more than carpentry does in the hammer and nail. Just as the carpenter has a higher purpose (a building, a cabinet…the joy brought by what he really creates), so does the magician. When I was a child, I loved to play with hammers and nails and chunks of wood. I created some very interesting pieces of trash with my “carpentry.” Later on, I learned to use it to create interesting stage sets…and suddenly carpentry became infinitely more interesting. Accepting the responsibility to actually make something with my carpentry gave it meaning and purpose – and it became a far more satisfying experience! 

I know many of you reading this are either magicians or fans of magic. I have some bad news for you. Lots of the magic I see out there, even while the tricks are successful, seems to be creating the same kind of “trash” I created as a child with that hammer and nails. What’s it really for? Does the magician know? Does his or her audience know? 

In my own lectures and courses, I’ve become a big advocate for discovering the purpose behind any bit of magic we do, of defining what we want to achieve in creating our businesses, and the purpose we have for each show we do. It is amazing how finding those purposes makes everything else involved in creating the magic (or the career in magic) so much clearer and more easily doable. Not only does it help you make wise decisions and choices – it gives you a way to measure your success. More than that – it gives you a way to take responsibility for the results of your magic. 

Unfortunately, discovering our purposes can be a confusing proposition. We find ourselves re-examining our every idea and belief. Sometimes we find that our ideas and beliefs conflict with one another, or that we’re holding onto beliefs that are outdated or limiting. Letting go of something you’ve lived with for a long time can be traumatic and upsetting – but if you do, you’re suddenly free to grow again. 

And that would seem to bring us full circle…we’re right back to the confusion and growth we started with. So, I’ll leave you here. Hopefully embracing your own confusion and ready to grow. The days have begun to grow longer – around here, there are already new buds on the trees and bushes. I’m looking forward to discovering what magic awaits me in the coming months. The dark times have already begun to pass. Magic is afoot! 

Best wishes. 

Tobias Beckwith

PS: I’m working on a new book, “Wizards’ Ways” about how magic can affect each of our lives. If today’s note brought back any interesting memories from any of you “wizards” out there, I’d love to hear your stories. Drop me a line!

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