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.
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.
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http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=226895514056472&set=a.226895507389806.55097.116333738445984&&theater Trying to create some publicity for myself lol. press people get at me
Today, I watched About Schmidt, and Jack Nicholson asked himself a very important question that poked me: what have I done on this Earth that is making a difference? The same question was posed in a book I'm reading called "Dance Dance Dance" by Murakami: is the world doing okay without me and my work? I've wondered how things will be if I never did a single show again; if this last trick I showed you would really be my last. After a long stretch of no work, I went out of 2011 riding back to back gigs, and feel revived to just be in front of a room, performing again. My show is the one thing I do that I have a comfortable certainty doing. Ironically magic is a mystery to most, but to me, the things I do that aren't magic are the mysteries: falling in love in new ways with the girl I'm engaged to, finding God, and believing that my story will turn out alright. What I'm trying to say is, magic is the one thing I know, front and back, in a universe swirling with things unknown. I cannot just drop it at the end of this year. Even if I may find myself working a 9 to 5 a few years from now, I know the world will be okay without my magic shows. But my world, internally, will not be okay. How will my mind be without this practice? The great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi discovered his purest state of mind through perfection of the sword. I can only hope to continue practicing for that same purpose, regardless if there is a paying audience in front of me many years down the road or not. I can't stop magic, even if I tried: to do so would be to vanish. That's impossible, as I'm still here at the end of the year, breathing and alive. There are so many more places to spread my magic to. I'll never be finished. My magic will continue like a universe, unfolding with or without my control in every direction for all to see.
Egos as aside as possible, I take pride in saying that my man Remy Connor aka Sam has slayed me once again with his performing superiority. Right after suffering from a major car accident, I visited him to see that he was okay. He was cheerful and positive as ever, and I was glad to see him there in his apartment playing videogames and laughing, instead of in a hospital bed with a neck brace on. He would have still been laughing and being cheerful even if he was there in a hospital bed, and find a way to say "awesome" despite the non-awesome things a car crash can bring.
Here is a video I randomly ran into of him performing at a gig we did on Las Olas. This was actually the last time I performed alongside him since his car accident...
Remy Killing It
And so I the antidote am reminded of my former rival, the smoke-breathing serpent mage who manages to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the House in performing prowess. Sam is bar-none one of the best performers I know, and I delightfully envy the dynamics, grace, and potency of the way he delivers his magic to the minds of his spectators. He is alive, and well. He is not dead. He may be working less in magic these days, and sitting in an apartment playing videogames despite his physical injuries. He is still saying "awesome" even when life is telling him your car is totaled. I am so glad this isn't a eulogy. I feel like it is quite the opposite. My rival lives. He is still the insanely powerful magician I remembered him as when Mark and I met him at a magic convention many years ago. This lady who took the video could have posted Mark's set, or my set. She posted Sam's set. Sam slayed us. I am honored.-antidote
So here I sit, at the edge of another show's end. My feet dangle and kick lazily at the end of the stage, with no one left in the room to watch. The spotlight flickers above me, and debris of popcorn and half-drunk drink cups lightly litter the aisles. I love this part of the show!
I love the feeling of doing a captive show, and at the end, celebrating with myself for completing another mission. The feeling right after a show ends is kind of like that Friday feeling for you office mongers, or that first day of summer break. I chills at the edge of my shows, and pour myself a glass of wine to unwind after the dust settles.
I think I made a tremendous step forward in the goal of self-expression through the art of magic at this last event. I just need my own venue. It's so hard to say what you want to say, and paint what you want to paint if your on a moving train or in a noisy bar. The venues available to most working magicians today are less than suitable canvases for expressing ones-self, and spreading the energy you wish to spread. I'm grateful for every night I'm able to call a venue my own and turn it into my canvas for an hour. It's like, a studio with nice lighting and quiet space and an entire blank wall to work on if you're a graffiti artist, as opposed to infiltrating a subway tunnel at night and throwing down a bomb really quick before you have to dip. That's how strolling and even busking is: get in, throw down your bomb, and be out. It's kind of limited in what you can do.
It takes less energy to do those short, 5-15 min burst shows, but it's always nice coming back to a full show for a captive audience for a solid hour, who pay to come and see you. I'm just meditating at the edge of the stage these things. I'm excited to bring my show to another venue soon. I hope you can see it. It's pretty different from what you're used to seeing magicians do.
So, as the mighty founder of the rogue mage dojo the House of Flying Cards, commanding armies of magicians at my disposal like Gengis Kahn to conquer crowds wherever we go, I secretly freelance at a 9-5 desk job every now and then. It's great! It's so laid back. I pick up the phone and ask people if they would like free movie tickets, as opposed to picking up the phone and convincing people to book our shows. I sit peacefully in an air-conditioned cubicle surrounded by movie posters, as opposed to standing under the hot sun in front of groups of strangers waiting to be impressed. It's low-intensity, and stable. I have tasted this world. It's humbling, and there's peace in low-brainpower tasks such as shipping boxes of movie posters and stuffing envelopes. I once read that a Buddhist monk from the Ching Dynasty fled the bustle of the imperial city to retire in the mountains, and chop bamboo. He achieved enlightenment this way. It's a change of pace, the 9-5, but the more I do it, the more energy I store up energy for my next run on the performance grind. I love the way things balance out: low-intensity office hours and high-intensity gig runs. I can appreciate the balance both bring to my being!
One way magic has served me is by making time warp and pass forward, kind of like a good drinking session, but without the hangover. A performance moves my mind into the crowd, and far away from things that sting and upset me. I come out of one 15-minute set feeling different, and far away from where I was before the set had just started. An entire gig does me this favor many fold, and at the day's end, I'm looking around with different, and better, eyes. I had fought with the girl I love this morning, and got irrationally mad. There was no good reason to my madness! But in the heat of that moment, it made sense, and I rode that madness into a turbulent phone conversation and text exchange. She went to sleep in tears (she lives on the other side of the world, so the timezone is different), and I rode into my gig in a funk. I got out of it after the gig. The gig saved me! A few hours of doing magic moved my mind away from what happened, and when I came back to it some hours later, I realized how fooled I was to believe in my madness and act on it. I called her when I got home that night, and gave fully into my apologies and intentions to take better care of her and not get irrationally mad. I got off the phone feeling ten-times more appreciative of what we have. Thank you, magic. You serve me like a samurai once again, and cut down the bad in me that I wish to leave behind.
Today, I performed my show at a hospital clinic for the elderly. What a joyful audience! The overwhelming excitement and buzz in the room that built throughout the show was amazing. I can't stop marveling at what magic, and poetry, or any art form in general, can do for the human spirit. It is uplifting to see people uplifted. Simply put, I killed it: I did an excessively good job at this particular show, which is somewhat rare. It felt like I'm a basketball player and scored 50 points in the game to win it, and put smiles on the faces of everyone in the stands. It wasn't a bright-lit arena: it was a clinic! A waiting space of diagnosis and medications. I actually did the show in the waiting room, and turned it into my own magical theater. I don't care where it goes down. I'll perform on the moon if I'm asked to, for the astronauts stuck in their space shuttle laboratories. Magic is like light: it can go anywhere. So I took it as smoothly as I could into the eyes of these old people, and my poems into their ears. I'm exceptionally excited, as this was the first show where I actually bounced between doing straight magic, magic-poetry, and my poems by themselves. The reaction I received from this new approach was startlingly deep. The attention of the room funneled to a single point so clear after each poem, that I could have done the worst magic trick in the world and they still would have reacted. I'm glad I have this "sidekick" artform to help my magic out. It feels like I have Wade and Bron on my team, or Shaq and Kobe. Lol I've been watching them playoffs. It feels good to do a good job, and to see people happy from what I do. And even better knowing the income I'm getting from whatever this is making is going to take me back to the Philippines, where I can see the girl I love again. Life is astonishing. I am overwhelmed with God fortune.
The Move Unseen
A blog for magic.