Why I Stopped Being a Magician

It's a powerful feeling when a young man is given a briefcase filled with magic.

I was a high school freshman when a family friend dropped off a hand-me-down collection of magic tricks in a teal briefcase. He was off to college and no longer needed red sponge balls, rigged card decks, ropes of different lengths, or multicolor handkerchiefs.

My poor parents. In the weeks that followed they could hardly eat a meal or read a book without me slinking out of the shadows to shove a deck of cards in their face or announce I would produce a coin from the belly of a nearby loaf of bread. We lost a lot of good loaves of bread.

It was exciting to learn how to perform these new tricks - especially as my skill increased - but sadly, I soon lost interest in the art of magic and sleight of hand. Every once in a while I'll dust off the teal briefcase to entertain myself or woo a new woman (this actually works), but I've largely abandoned my identity as an illusionist.

Looking back it's clear that I gave up on being a magician for one simple reason: I learned how the tricks were done. I was in on the joke. I got the gimmick. The magic wasn't magic anymore once I knew the mechanics (to me at least) - it felt like I was simply mastering and executing a series of moves to produce a result I could predict. 

Since then, I've abandoned plenty of other pursuits: skateboarding, acting, performance yo-yoing, drawing, slam poetry, rock climbing, pogoing, gardening, and - sadly - keeping a regular blog. 

Additionally, there are more skills I come close to abandoning all the time for the same sad reason I stopped doing card tricks: because I learned the intricacies of a craft and falsely believed that, if the mystery was gone for me, then the work probably doesn't add value to others. 

We see this far too often, don't we? Passionate and excited people with a gift to give the world abandon their work and pursue something else (or nothing at all) because the contribution they're making is no longer as complicated or challenging to them as it once was.

Each time this happens the world misses out on a little magic.

I've never heard someone, after a concert featuring their favorite band, whisper to their friend, "Geez Louise, I think they've been performing long enough - it's gotta be a piece of cake for them by now. I'd be more impressed if they learned how to play new instruments - or hell, took up a new craft all together." 

Said no one ever!

We love witnessing the work of those who consistently endeavor to hone a skill - it's one of the most beautiful things to behold. If this is true, then why do we limit ourselves from sharing our talents with those around us the instant we're proficient enough to take off the training wheels?

I can tell you first-hand that we limit ourselves for all kinds of nasty reasons: We're afraid we'll be judged, we're afraid someone else can do it better, we're afraid we'll mess up, we're afraid we're not as good as we think we are, we're afraid we're not as ready as we could be, we're afraid to participate because we're not pro yet, we're afraid, we're afraid, we're afraid.

What a shame. What a shame for all the rest of us to miss out on that thing you believe in because you're not impressed with yourself enough to invite us into the magic.

I believe one of the most beautiful elements of the human experience is the act of sharing; we have the ability to pass feelings of inspiration, wonder, and excitement between one another that then allows us to share in something bigger together. This is enhanced when we share the things that are magical to us - even if they seem like common knowledge - because the things inside of you that you've known your whole life are probably new to everyone else. 

The beauty of a magic trick lies not in the skill behind the illusion - or even the existence of magic itself. Real magic occurs when we decide to believe in something deeply, learn to do it well, then share it with others.