Maybe Sarah Silverman is right – magic is in the sunsets. Magicians are nothing more than practitioners, experts at the sleight of hand and diversion, practicing until what is visible appears invisible. The Prestige, my favorite Nolan film, is brilliant at outlining the process: First I am going to tell you that there is no such thing as magic, but then you will want to believe in it so much that you will believe the impossible, even when the solution is simple and right in front of you. And so it is with the life full of quick fixes and miracle solutions. Products that will allow for shortcuts and dreams that come true with little to no effort. Magic! But, I don’t think quick fixes are magical at all. They require no discipline and can be explained through failure.
So, then two types of magic – Silverman’s sunsets that can be explained with science and possibly not completely understood; and Nolan’s – the kind that requires perseverance, sacrifices, and nerves of steel risking exposure as a fraud or failure.
I had a magic set when I was young. It included a top hat, wand, cards, and some tiny rope. I practiced for about a week. Then I became disenchanted, bored even and I put it aside. What was I hoping for then? Maybe an escape into a world that was different from mine. The Houdini brand of magic. The kind that permits us to believe that there is a hidden path to a different life. The illusion that we can truly escape what ails us and grope our way into another dimension where things are less frightening, perhaps happier. And so I believed in the people who practiced it. Who showed me the way out. One of my favorite book series growing up was T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn. It presented a brilliant, but honest and often harsh take on humanity, wrapped in a deeply rewarding fantasy.
More recently, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell provides an interesting travel into the world of magical forces. It explores the limitations of knowing another dimension, rooted in the inability to know ourselves. Based on the book of the same name by Susanna Clark, it grapples with the idea that legitimate magic once existed in England and now is making its return via Mr. Strange and Mr. Norrell. And as their journeys progress, and in some cases digress, they set in motion a series of events that cannot be undone. It was this sort of work, and that of T.H. White, that sent me in the direction of finding a deeper sense and connectivity to magic and myself.
And so I turned to Silverman’s version in search of something a bit more out of my reach, even with a disciplined approach. I set about to add tricks to my bag – meditation, prayer, good counsel, rest, play, exercise. I am now a magician of sorts – believing in things that I cannot see or even explain. I may start a group, we will wear top hats and carry spells of good wishes for fulfilled dreams for ourselves and those around us…
…I do believe we are the magicians of our own lives. Every day I see posts, links and ideas to make our colleagues world a better place, to announce an opportunity to better ourselves. Every day we practice the magic of connection. And every day we are one step closer to realizing that yes, not only could this be the magic, but it is in fact the birth place of it. A place where we toil at our professions for the good of ourselves, our families and the greater community. We don’t get to play Vegas (unless your profession is truly magic), but we perform every day, creating a different version of ourselves, and of the world around us. And when we stop to explore a sunrise or sunset, we are connecting to a force that holds us like gravity and says, I will not let you fall.
A wonderful journey is waiting, both on an internal and external plane. The featured iphone image was snapped in Traverse City, Michigan. I thought it was a fitting take on the subject. And here is some more inspiration for the road.