Sharpen Your Saw!

Dear Friends,
Our guest contributor this month is George Parker, a long-time friend and contributor to the Magic & Mystery School. An international corporate magician and speaker, and an expert in creativity and self-transformation, George shares his insights on how revisiting past choices can help keep our magic, and our lives, fresh and vibrant.

Sharpen Your Saw!
On one of my regular trips to see Eugene Burger in Chicago, he once told me he had improved his Gypsy Thread routine. This piece had been in his repertoire for decades, and it was already published as “The Thread of Life and Death” in Spirit Theater (Kaufman and Greenberg, 1986, pages 156-163).
I asked Eugene, “Okay, you improved the routine you have been doing for decades?!?!” “Yes,” he said, “I finish like this now!” Eugene held an imaginary thread between his fingers and thumbs with his palms up, and then he turned his palms out and opened to the audience. Immediately I knew he was right. Of course that’s better!! By adding that subtle detail, he created stronger magic by hiding the method deeper, as Larry Hass would phrase it.
In other words, Eugene had sharpened his saw. Stephen Covey uses that metaphor in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) to express the need to revisit past behavior, choices, and habits, and to do some house cleaning to prevent their magic from fading away. I will mention three reasons I can think of why this “fading away” can happen. They are, I think, as relevant for performance magic as for life magic, and I will refer to both.
1.  Our belief in our own routines can diminish. If we don’t really care anymore, we deliver lackluster performances. The magic declines. This can happen in life as well. You don’t need to care about running errands or doing chores. But there are parts of our life that need your full attention to stay fresh.
2. You change over the course of your life. What worked when you were fifteen might not work at all when you are twenty-five. With performance magic, scripts that worked great when you were thirty-two might not be the right choice when you are fifty-eight. In life, we need to clean up our “act” as well, and regularly renew the way we think and act to stay current and spiritually alive.
3. New methods will be invented. Not all new methods are better. But some clever inventions might improve our magic. We need to keep studying, and might well run into improvements like Eugene did. Stay curious in life, and take in information. It may open doors you didn’t see as doors before. That new level of consciousness may help you to improve the quality of your life.
You will find that sometimes our response to the call of the saw is: “I don’t have time to sharpen my saw because I’m so busy with sawing!” If you are tired, don’t care anymore, or you feel the magic is slipping away, it’s probably time to sharpen your saw in some aspect of your life. I include a GIF to help you remember to sharpen your saw. Good luck!
George Parker

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