My (Kinda Technical) Journey In Magic

I might make anoth­er post describ­ing my “Spiritual” jour­ney, con­sid­er­ing the con­tents are slight­ly dif­fer­ent from what I’m attempt­ing to write here. If I don’t, I hope some­one holds me up to it.

Some time ago, when I went to a Children’s Day event, orga­nized by folks I knew far too well, I’ve been won­der­ing the kinds of things that could help the chil­dren have a great time beyond mere games offered at the stalls, or food they could buy. Somehow, I kept think­ing “Magic” at all times. It gave me moti­va­tion to learn some Performance Arts beyond mere­ly my lit­er­ary-visu­al-only inter­ests, such as paint­ing, poet­ry and ani­ma­tion. That said, Performance Arts can sig­nif­i­cant­ly enhance one’s men­tal health, as well allow you to per­form in the pres­ence of oth­ers as opposed to the iso­la­tion that non-per­for­mance arts pro­vide.

But why did I choose Magic over things like Dancing, or Music, or any­thing else? That’s because these per­for­mance arts are already wide­ly avail­able and accept­ed com­pared to mag­ic; gui­tars are EVERYWHERE, but magi­cians are not. And even where there are magi­cians, many rely on gim­micks and read­i­ly avail­able “prod­ucts” where no skill may required, and there­in sleight of hand artists are hard to find.

Which is why I chose the art. It was not only fas­ci­nat­ing for me, but also some­thing that not many prac­tice in prox­im­i­ty. It made me feel spe­cial in a way. And it ALSO helped me deal with my appar­ent clum­si­ness by help­ing me be mind­ful and devel­op­ing my dex­ter­i­ty.

Up until a week back, when peo­ple real­ized that I do sim­ple mag­ic they used to ask me, “Are you a magi­cian?” To which, the only response I used to have is, “No”. Because mere­ly doing a few sleight of hand tricks does not make you a magi­cian, just as apply­ing lip­stick does not make you a make-up artist (although I’ll dis­agree with myself here if we’re talk­ing about “prin­ci­ples and poten­tials” and not “labels by action”; here, I believe every­one is BORN an artist / sci­en­tist).

But that might have changed recent­ly: I might have final­ly achieved the state of a Magician (even if an ama­teur one at that), con­sid­er­ing that NOW I’ve moved beyond mere tricks to a full-fledged rou­tine that I can now glad­ly show around. I feel hap­py that my efforts since the past year has paid off, and NOW I can final­ly con­sid­er myself as a “Magician”.

But would I be a GOOD Magician? Hardly yet. That’s because, despite my con­stant prac­tice, I still make ter­ri­ble blun­ders, and it’s dif­fi­cult to bounce back from it, because I also can’t “con­struct” and mod­i­fy rou­tines on the fly with what I have, so my mag­ic isn’t as impromp­tu as I hoped it to be. At the same time, cur­rent­ly, I haven’t yet moved beyond coins, even beyond one coin, and the only rou­tine I’ve man­aged to con­struct so far is a One Coin Routine (like the one you can find here, except I’m not THAT smooth):

But ONE good rou­tine, if done well, is good enough to estab­lish one­self as an Artist, as it may demon­strate both your poten­tial and ded­i­ca­tion to your craft. And if I can build a one-rou­tine, I can also step up to more dif­fi­cult sleights like Spellbound and even Coins Across (which scare the hell out of me), and per­haps even move on to Cards, Canes, Candles or CDs. Much of mag­ic was built in the aura in mys­tery since the ages, but con­sid­er­ing we’re steadi­ly mov­ing ahead in the infor­ma­tion age, that aura of mys­tery stands at an incred­i­bly frag­ile cir­cum­stance. Many magi­cians, there­fore, have instead adapt­ed their mag­ic around com­e­dy for the sake of enter­tain­ment, but there are already bet­ter pro­fes­sion­als than me around to do that. So instead, I’m look­ing for­ward to adapt and devel­op my mag­ic to some­thing of a grace­ful / styl­is­tic enter­tain­ment art, along the lines of Cyril Takayama, Ponta The Smith and King Coffee.

And per­haps, even meld it togeth­er with poet­ry! I don’t think anyone’s done that, have they?

What’s fas­ci­nat­ing about sleight of hand is that it cap­ti­vates the imag­i­na­tion and inter­ests of almost every child one can come across (and if you actu­al­ly live around, pre­pare to be con­stant­ly both­ered by them try­ing to get you to per­form for them every sin­gle day), and that very same kind of inter­est plagues you, enough to make the mere prac­tice of it cathar­tic. Enough to make the craft an addic­tion alto­geth­er, but an addic­tion that has all the ben­e­fits (and more) of smok­ing or drink­ing, but none of their draw­backs. Once you begin, and man­age to learn a few sleights, it’s real­ly hard NOT prac­tice it around when­ev­er you have a coin with you. As Vinh Giang would assure you, mag­ic also seems to cease being a pres­sure of chal­lenges the moment you real­ize it may also be the ulti­mate form of relax­ation. And as such, it also serves as an excel­lent stress-reliev­er.

Despite the ded­i­ca­tion, I don’t think I’ll ever turn this lit­tle hob­by of mine into a pro­fes­sion. It’s more of a lifestyle for me, because I chose to give chil­dren espe­cial­ly a good time and spread hap­pi­ness. I’m still not the best at doing that, but I’ve cer­tain­ly come far on my own.

Practicing your Art on your own is one thing, and no mat­ter how good you are, at some point in your life you will cer­tain­ly need a men­tor to guide you through. It makes hap­py that I’m able to pur­sue my inter­ests that were once sup­port­ed by mil­lions of oth­ers who had the same con­nec­tion, who essen­tial­ly invent­ed what I’m try­ing to learn now: Robert Houdin, Nelson Downs, Slydini, Eric Jones, etc. But there’s also always a need for some­one who can guide you per­son­al­ly, rather than mere­ly through books.

That said, it’s Guru Purnima today, isn’t it? A cel­e­bra­tion of teach­ers. There ought to be no bet­ter a day than today to go out and final­ly seek some­one who can help me go beyond what I am today.

We all stand on the shoul­ders of giants. And maybe some day, we’ll even learn how to fly. If noth­ing else besides Science, it’s Magic that encour­ages us to dream of things that are vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble, and STILL have the courage to try turn that into a real­i­ty. It may be decep­tion, it may be a lie, but it’s cer­tain­ly an inspir­ing one.


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