i write for inner peace.
I have a new effect: Magician to King.
Being self-employed is a monarchy, and like all monarchies, it has a tendency to one day fall. I'm amazed at every day I wake up to learn that I am Houdini-escaping from the confines of the traditional 9 to 5 cubicle. I know my time with this art as work is borrowed, and I'm taking the chance to practice deeply.
Over the next few months, I will be working on a new video project to capture my moments with my art form in the corners of my late-night practice sessions. I know soon, I will have to be selfless and transfer ship to a 9 to 5 job, to support my fiance and upcoming family. But until then, I will sleep late and spend as much quality time with magic as I can.
The project is called "Cardboard Kingdoms", and introduces anyone who cares to follow me on a journey through a world of card magic routines performed to poetry. Each routine is its own frail, fleeting kingdom- kind of like a city of dominos that is destined to fall down with only me watching. I don't really get to express or perform these routines at my gigs that much, so these deep-night practice sessions are where I can really visit them, and get lost in the art I have grown to love.
The first of these kingdoms is the Sky, and is inspired by my long distance relationship with my fiance Agnes Pasco. Enjoy your stay, and if you'd like to see more, subscribe to the Cardboard Kingdom channel www.youtube.com/cardboardkingdoms, as I'll have a new kingdom ready for you to explore every few weeks or so this whole summer.
I have a new effect: Magician to Alchemist.
The purpose of this blog is to report my findings in my study of magic: my hidden findings; not the ones that involve learning new effects, routines, or even performing principles. The purpose of why I practice magic with the fervor of an alchemist is and always will be hagakure: hidden beneath the leaves for me to reveal.
I am a proponent of seeking the secret to mastery, like some rare earth metal or a planet with the elusive conditions to support life. Mastery is as elusive as time-travel, or getting into heaven on worldly works alone. I admit my faults and falls along the way, and my ego stares them down like an adversary yet to be defeated. I hate rivals. They bring out the fool in me, and I'm convinced to try and chase them down like shadows and catch up to their every move. I hate praise, and its allure, because it sways me away from my journey like a siren with its attractive words: praise God, and no one else. I wish to impart that on everyone I perform for, including the self I see in the mirror of my practice sessions. I fear criticism, like praise, because it can cause me to believe completely in the public opinion of others, and seek to validate every second of love-work I put into this art form with their judgement. I don't want to impress them, or to live in the shadow of proof. I don't stand behind proof, and instead, aspire to love what I do without proof. I have faith that I am in love with this art form; with my fiance; with God; with the belief that any good that comes from my magic is God's doing, and that any bad is from my own human imperfection. I am a horrible magician. I am naturally clumsy, socially awkward, set in my ways, and as oblivious an observer of people as they come. How I'm getting away with doing this for a living, I don't know. I know that I am capable of bringing out the God within through this alchemist-intense practice of this art I love only second to my fiance, my family, and God. The people who are not my audience for a fleeting moment of time, where praises, worship, and paychecks are at my grasp, are the ones worth practicing magic for; and getting good at it for. I hope to master this art in secret hopes of mastering self. The magician is the character of transformation.
I'm just going to be upfront with all the magicians in the scene that happen to be here reading this, and amazing me with enough non-indifference to come visit me here in the late-night corners of my alchemist-like lab: f**k learning new effects. The best effect learned in the practice of magic is the transformation of self. Do that, and I believe the reactions you'll get will go far beyond words, bookings, and tips.
And if you don't care to take any part of these findings I am humbly offering you an entire page of after years of laboring in the lab, oh well: God bless!
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.
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.
To make a magician react is a great thing. Many magi consider the art of fooling the magician a worth-while pursuit, and are in constant search for ways to blow their fellow practitioners away.Being a magician means seeing many different kind of reactions.
As of late, I have been meditating the reactions of magicians as they enter the House of Flying Cards, the dojo I run. They turn into kids! They become happier than normal to be surrounded by knowledge, and others like them. Every one in the House is so diverse: to see such a collection of characters under one roof, all united under one love for the art of magic, is like watching a giant reaction unfold. The effect is the House. It is rewarding on a different level.I used to wonder what the purpose of the House of Flying Cards was. In the beginning, it was to make a stamp on the college social scene as being a sick crew of wonder workers who would blow everyone away in their tracks. I always thought it was a living RPG game of characters that go through events together and rip minds to pieces. It was like being in a gang or the Yakuza, wrecking havoc at any social gathering or event we ran through. That was so fun! As we get older, I see it growing deeper in its purpose. It is bringing people back to magic. It is refreshing their relationship with their art. It is making them happy. It is giving them something to belong to, and be excited about. It is teaching them more magic than they could learn in a thousand books or DVDs from Theory 11 or wherever can. It is introducing them to a more personalized version of the after-hour jam sessions at conventions. It is bringing people together, and making them happy. Magic is about that: spectators and magicians alike. I am happy this is unfolding the way it is.
I sit at the edge of this empty dojo, with a half-smile and my sword down for once, imagining all the amazing places these magi will go.
I have great compassion for you, whether or not you have love or hate. I promise to treat your event with meticulous care, like an artisan potter with a mound of clay. I will represent my art form properly and prolifically at your event, and will add a dimension of entertainment that will surpass any amount of decorations or hype you can build up. I promise you I won't hold back, and will give you my magic in it's fullest form: effect for effect, moment for moment. I understand you work for your money, and I do as well: I will work diligently to make sure my magic is something you and your guests will love. I love what I do, and I intend to project that unto you when you are done seeing what I have to show you. I have a show for you, my great American spectator. I work for my bread and feel blessed, while you enjoy the finer things in life such as a slice of discretionary income for you to spend on your event. Live magic performance is an awesome thing to treat your guests to: an art form for the ages, a feeling as primal as a breath of fresh air. You will be wowed, in one way or another. I will see to it. You are in my hands for the hour or two that you book me and my show. I may not like you, but I love what I do more than any disposition you have can sway that. See you at your next event.
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.
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.