Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Magic of Perceptions and Beliefs

Another topic I address in my upcoming book is the fact that our perceptions of the world are always inaccurate.  As a performing magician, I experience this regularly, and it is in fact the reason that I can accomplish what I do as a 'weaver of wonders'.  Unfortunately we tend to forget that our perceptions are faulty, we then base our beliefs about the world and how it works on those perceptions, and then we more often than not staunchly defend those beliefs as though they were the ultimate truth about the world, even though nothing could be further from the 'truth'.

And therein lies the source of all our unhappiness.

In my book I quote a bumper sticker I once saw:  "If you can't change your mind, are you sure you still have one?"  What if instead of thinking we "know" what is true, we instead went through life in a state of open-minded curiosity?  This attitude is the foundation of all true creativity.  And it's the secret to living our lives as the magical, creative beings we were always meant to be.

When life is a continual dance of discovery, it's tough to get bogged down in thinking there's something "wrong" with the way things are, and therefore in resisting them and making ourselves miserable.  And ironically, it's our open-mindedness that also allows us to respond more capably to challenges when they do arise and to resolve them more effortlessly.

So the next time you're tempted to think you know better than someone else, stop to remind yourself that it's really nothing more than a belief based on your necessarily limited perceptions of the situation, and see how that shift in perspective serves you to live more peacefully and joyfully.  You might just surprise yourself with some real magic!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Richard Wayne Clark: 1944—2012

My wife, Kathi, and I unexpectedly lost a good friend this past week—our neighbor and creative co-conspirator, Wayne Clark.  Wayne lived cattycorner across the street from us, and we met several years ago when I called him about a plumbing problem we were having.  Wayne ran his own plumbing and heating business, but to call him just a plumber would be a serious misrepresentation.  Wayne was a creative artist at all that he did, and a true intellectual in his own right.  He brought ingenuity and artistry to even the most mundane of activities.  After completing that first plumbing job for us, when he discovered that I was a magician, he refused to take payment for the job, insisting instead that I barter with him to do a show for a small private party at his house.

We quickly became good friends, and Kathi and I were enriched time and again by his generosity.  Allowing me unhampered access to his woodshop, Wayne taught me the art of cabinet making, and assisted and advised me through numerous projects, including new cabinets for our kitchen, a variety of "crafty" Christmas presents for our family, and a large hall tree/seat, to name just a few.  In turn, Kathi and I helped Wayne with decorating his house, creating curtains and window treatments, and with a wide variety of creative projects for both our houses.

Whether it was helping me to build magic props for my act, offering advice on home repair, or just thinking through some building project, Wayne was an absolute wealth of information, expertise, and creativity.  His artistic solutions to a variety of problems never ceased to amaze me.  And he shared it all freely, never holding back.

Late night talks at Wayne's house also become a regular occurrence, with topics ranging from creativity and art, to philosophy and religion, to science and technology, to politics, to cooking, to just about anything and everything in between.  Wayne loved to argue and debate and would often take a contrary position on something just to get a rise out of someone.  He took great delight in getting under your skin and seemed to find tremendous joy in the intellectual banter.

But he was also one of the most caring and generous people I've ever known.  While he'd be embarrassed to have anyone acknowledge it openly, he nonetheless cared genuinely about other people and consistently tried to offer help whenever and wherever possible.  Even at his most cantankerous, he was never mean spirited, would never dream of doing anything intentionally hurtful, and in fact had a huge and compassionate heart that served as his moral compass.  I would have trusted him with my life.

I can't help but think that in his need to be contrary he's finally gotten the last laugh:  he left us long before we were ready to be done sharing our lives with him.  I just can't believe I'll never again be able to walk across the street to get his advice on something, and I suddenly feel this big hole in my life where Wayne used to be.

Thanks for sharing with us, Wayne, we'll miss you more than you could have imagined.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Magic in Our Day

As previously announced, my new self-improvement book (tentatively titled, A Life of Magic) is set to be released later this year.  As I write this, we're about half way through the editing process and beginning work on cover design.  Over the coming weeks, I hope to share a few previews and "sneak peaks" into the subject matter in the book.  One of the things I talk about is the powerful transformative quality of "magical moments", or moments of awe, wonder, and what psychologist, Abraham Maslow, referred to as "peak experiences".

Allowing ourselves to "lose ourselves" in a moment in which we appreciate the beauty of a sunset, in which we are immersed in meaningful work, or where we simply rest in a moment of stillness can be incredibly empowering and transformative.  So this is just a little reminder to stay alert to the extraordinary that's all around us all the time as we go through our day.