i write for inner peace.
There's a certain familiarity that resides in a box of Bicycle playing cards; the feeling of control in my hands; of expertise at the tips of my fingers. The way a strike-double hits the tip of my index triggers a shot to the memory, and lingers, as slight as an after-taste on the palate of the distant past. I see flashes of where I've been light up at every turn in the winding streets of my age-old routines, so I run through them with my eyes closed just to remember what it feels like to have the ground beneath my feet. The technical coreography carves its way through the chaos, and memory lanes open. I ride through each one on my Bikes, and breathe freely. There's a bold sense of belonging with the cards in my hands. Whatever in hell is chasing me at the moment vanishes completely. I'm home once the card box opens, like a genie back in the lamp and free from all outside demands for the time being. The painters of ancient China used to block out the present, and re-visit the recluse huts in the mountains of their finished works, as an escape to the turbulence that comes from the speed at which the world spins. Time sits in the palm of my hands like a monk in lotus position, floating in the familiarity of mechanics grip and twisting at their own leisurely pace down the paths my age-old routines can take them. Familiarity is mine once again, whenever I want it back, in situations that shuffle me out of control and make me want to retreat into the cardboard box of my Bicycles. Often times, comfort zones reside in boxes like these, and I find fifty two familiar faces inside mine waiting for me, whom I've seen the same way time and again in times of uncertainty. I thumb through each one like meditation beads, to make sure they're all there, as the things that surround me fall apart and I loose control of everything else.
The key is to make a scene. The presence of a crowd, even of three or four people, looking at the same thing is already something to look at. They say in psychology, if you point and look up at a point in the sky, someone else might involuntarily look that way. That's what I try to do. I want the first few people who watch to be my arrows, pointing in my direction: a person who doesn't really like being the center of attention. I sit at the back of buses and walk to the park without a nod to passing neighbors. I like to shoot basketball by myself over playing in pick-up games. My coffee and beer, I drink alone. I put on a hard hat of tolerance when it comes to the hour or so at gigs. I have to be the center of attention. So to do that, I make a scene. The key is to create gravity. I like thinking of my 360 crowds as asteroid belts, and I this strange, mystical world they are orbiting and looking in on. I like it when my crowds cave in, instead of my reaching out to pull them. My center of gravity- the core- is a small wooden stool I've been calling the Lotus. It holds my three poetry books like a make-shift bookshelf. I also have a pole next to me with a giant sign that says "watch". I stand in front of the Lotus with Hagakure- the name for my deck of cards- out in my open hands like a fishing pole. I would cap off this living backdrop with the Lightning Rod- the short sword I use in my final demonstration- which I conspicuously lay on the ground right in front of the Lotus like a free throw line. And thus completes my storefront for attention. Sometimes I fall into a lull. Despite the out-of-the-ordinariness of this scene, people would readily pass me without a second glance. Some would look away. After no more than 10 minutes, though, someone extroverted enough would be bold enough to approach. They approach me! I love how its reversed like that, because most magicians end up approaching their spectators.
I have no idea why I am writing about all this. I am not at work right now. I was just reading this book called "Pinball, 1973" by Haruki Murakami, and he has brought to light to me the uselessness of being good at something. I think I'm fairly good at making a scene; giving people something to look at, and do, like a pinball machine in the corner of abar, flashing its lights while waiting for someone to stop by and play.That's what I do: I am a pinball machine at gigs.
This is great to know! This is humbling to take in.
Magicians are known to carry props. Some have boxes and wands. Others have ropes and rings. I respect all weapons out there, and do see a magician's tools as his weapons. Further, I go so far as to name these weapons and give them as much credit as a coach would his players on a team. I can't sleep, and am sort of thinking of magic, so I felt like shedding some props on the props that make my repertoire tick and have taken me around the world and back.
Meaning: hidden beneath the leaves
Experience: 13 years
Effect: Ups and Downs
Position: street show crowd collector
Description: The family name for all my decks of cards. Whatever deck is on me, it will share the name and soul of Hagakure, to remind me that the purpose of why I do magic is hidden beneath the cards. The act of holding it out unsheathed creates a gravity that helps me draw the first few spectators of my street show crowd, and is the dough from which I bake a poetry-based ACR entitled "Ups and Downs"
Meaning: breath resonance
Experience: 6 years
Effects: Freecap, Bookworm
Position: street show opener and middle
Description: The name of the pen I carry with me at all times. Its name translates loosely to, "write what you feel, when you're feeling it," to ensure the freshness and vitality of all words and ideas that flow out through me. I depend on this guy gig-in and gig-out to carry the load of the routines "Freecap" and "Bookworm", which consist the meat of my street show as far as astonishing the crowd and keeping them there goes.
Name: The Lightning Rod
Experience: 3 years
Position: street show closer
Description: The name of the short sword that I literally carry with me to all my shows, which I use in the closing demonstration called "Laido". A lightweight weapon passed down by Mark, my good friend and brother in the artistic and spiritual pursuits, this weapon is humble in appearance but efficient in cutting. Its chipped-up wooden scabbard and blurry blade reflect years of use. The name is inspired by the nature of lightning, and how it gets straight to the point with no hesitation and without holding anything back.
Hidden beneath the illusions I create are purposes that extend to serve things greater than themselves. I am a deluded practitioner at times, sharpening my swords blindly with the intent of getting good for no one's sake but my own. Musashi would have been pissed. A certain chaos swirls out of slashing in vain. My ego is inflated, and the very essence of why I have chosen to pick up this sword of Magic becomes Hagakure: hidden beneath the leaves.
The samurai of long ago served their lords until death, with a selflessness that feared neither humility nor defeat. I revisited my samurai inspirations and have noticed that my reflection is blurry. Why am I struggling to be good? Who is my adversary? The competitor in me strives perfection without a second thought, constantly measuring my ascent with that of my peers, and racing to the top with no idea what to do when or if I get there. The top is lonely: an elusive point in the sky that can do no one else any good by being there because there is only room for one. The reasons I do magic have become as Hagakure as the world beneath the clouds: far away, and out of reach.
The purpose of this sword in Magic is to serve: to transcend my own selfish desires for others. I need to be with my fiance: to travel to that far side of the world to see her, and to eventually close the distance by bringing us to one place. Magic will make the money I need to do that. My mom also needs money: she's never going to be out of debt, and works too much to try to pay it all off. The money I make from gigs will help her with that. Jadu- the precious feeling of baby-mind astonishment that people rarely feel- is a light that needs to be spread. Magic lets me to serve this to those around me. The House of Flying Cards, a dojo of practicing magi whose love for magic is what unites all the members, needs my magic: to hold that community together, help members grow in love with what they do, and hopefully be a light to them on their journeys. Also being in a dojo keeps me humble: always a student and never a master. The soul mirror: only in doing one thing with the diligence of a polisher can some kind of inner clarity be achieved. I read once about a monk in the Tang Dynasty who achieved enlightenment by chopping bamboo, and I seek the same inner clarity through disciplined practice of magic, slaying demons like ego, pride, and greed on the way. To praise God for his blessings: the act of doing magic as a job alone makes me prayerful enough to give thanks and praise before every gig. Meeting RPG characters on my journey, and putting me in a position to be an RPG character of my own to them on theirs: my light can only be spread only if I'm out there, meeting people face to face through performance. Otherwise, my reclusiveness gets the best of me and I end up staying at home, seeing no one and holding whatever light is in me back. Seeing the world: my magic has caused me to go places I wouldn't have been to and meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise. Seeing the world can only bring me closer to my real self, and destroy any rigid frames of mind that stand in the way of getting there. Love: the act of doing magic teaches me to love what I do. Being in magic is being in a relationship, and if I can stay in love with what I do, this sword can only be a humble precursor to loving at greater levels. I once heard any art form is a bridge to heaven. If that is so, then climbing to the top might not be so bad.
The Move Unseen
A blog for magic.