The three-sided coin

The three-sided coin
Everyone suffers under the weight of expectation. We don't have the time or the clinical therapy licence to fully unpack and systematically address this shared trauma, but we can offer some thoughts related to magic and any creative endeavour.

There's a conception within our niche community that we must ‘pick a lane’, so to speak. Are you a wizard gifting moments of revelation to the world-weary? Are you someone who's doing it for fun with friends and family? Do you want to be a stage warrior who travels every week? The bringer of smiles to those nearing the end of their life? A corporate guru? Someone who makes a child's 10th birthday memorable? To earn some money on the street free from a cubicle under the open sky? How about a dexterous technician who finds fulfillment in the art of practice?  

Eugene Burger was known for cultivating the mentality that magic is "a house with many rooms" (Genii: The Conjuror's Magazine, V58, N9, July 1996, p 676). All one needs is a genuine interest, and they will find a home within our community. It's a beautiful sentiment that holds true to the aphorism ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’. As with everything else in life, there is no right or wrong way to pursue magic. It can be a rewarding hobby, a career, or a medium of artistic expression—it does not matter.

Despite the work of Andy at The Jerx highlighting and promoting the value of ‘social magic’, there remains an unwritten pressure that if you're not making money with magic, you're not a ‘real magician’. Fuck that.

Being a ‘worker’ is no more deserving of praise than being an amateur. Both are magicians. Some of history's most talented and influential magical minds didn't perform professionally. Some did. Others were plumbers, teachers, musicians, accountants, barbers, and retail workers. The last two decades have given rise to the ‘hustle culture’ mentality that if you can't monetize your hobby or art, it's not a valuable use of your time. The social weight behind this festers seeds of false discontent within many of us. Ignore this.

Our addendum to Eugene's statement is that “magic is a house with many rooms, all the doors are open, and you're welcome to wander”. If anyone says you don't belong in a room or if one room is better than another, they're lying.

"Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner." – Lao Tzu

What we do as artists, craftspeople, hobbyists, creators, technicians, performers, and writers is worth doing. You can be all of these or one; it matters not. Find joy and fulfillment in the rooms you walk through. Allow yourself to grow, but don't let others control your path. Welcome mentorship and guidance, but understand not all advice is right for you.

Like all other creative endeavours, magic is inherently profound, utterly meaningless, and fun.

Those are the three sides to the coin of art. It never lands on one side, so don't lock yourself into a room of stifling expectation. Follow your heart, be authentic and kind, stay present, find ways to relax and have fun, and always give more than you take.

Wander freely. This is the way.

1 comment

Humans engage in activities for many reasons, and art is no exception. So, any universal statement that attempt to declare what art is about is apt to be wrong. And any single handed definition of one’s purpose or intention in engaging with an art is apt to be limited.

I’ve often struggled, turning this idea into words. Wander freely is so simple and profound, you nailed it!

Sometimes my guitar becomes the center of the party, where having a good time with family and friends is all I care about. Other times, it becomes my means of finding peace and relaxation in a chaotic world. Occasionally, it become a megaphone for my feelings. And more often than not, grabbing my guitar is a reflex, not different from grabbing a deck of cards, were the fidgeting has no deliberate grand purpose at all. And finally, it’s any of the above, only it’s not my guitar I’m holding, it’s a deck of cards.


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