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Topic: It's just magic.
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (May 17, 2008 06:39PM)
The title of this discussion is a sentence that has been very helpful to me. So I thought I'd share it here in hopes that someone will be able to learn it the easy way.

When ever you get frustrated with your magic. Weather it's because you're having a hard time mastering a move or trick. Or maybe you had a trick or show go wrong. How about the times that you get really nervous (I'm sure we've all experienced the shakes. There are enough posts in here about it.).

When these kinds of things happen what I suggest you do is really think about the fact that it's just magic. NO matter how bad a trick or show went it's just magic. It's not the end of the world.

I know how strong the magic bug's bite can be and I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't take what you do seriously. But don't go overboard. In the beginning you'll have an almost overwhelming desire to learn anything that you don't already know. If you see a trick and you don't know how it's done you want to find out. If you learn a new move you want to master it then go out and show it to people. This is natural and I'm sure most of us have or are going through this phase. It's the same with any new hobby or interest.

I remember how I use to feel like ____ when a trick went wrong or I ran into spectators that were less the friendly. If I performed for someone and they didn't give a strong reaction like everyone else did then I felt like I messed something up and I'd feel down for hours. But today I understand that it's just magic. So what. A trick messed up. I meet someone who didn't like magic. I tripped and fell on my face as I was walking across the stage. Who cares. I was embarrassed for a moment but that feeling will only last as long as I let it last. I'll get another crack at it and chances are the same mistake won't happen again.

So when things go wrong with your magic just realize that it's just magic. React to it. Learn from it then keep moving forward. Believe me if you can learn to think in this way things will get a lot easier and because you're relaxed you're magic will likely improve.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Amiable (May 17, 2008 07:01PM)
Thanks for the encouragements!

- a beginner.
Message: Posted by: spatlind (May 17, 2008 08:00PM)
Great post Jaxon!!

Couldn't agree more. Relax, slow down and realise it's not the be all and end all if something doesn't go to plan. I've been trying to think this way myself recently a lot and it provides great encouragement!

Message: Posted by: michaelmagicart (May 17, 2008 08:20PM)
If you complete a career in magic without a mistake ever occurring then you are not a magician, but the luckiest person in the world. “The best laid plans of mice and men often times go astray”.

I can remember a dove dropping a “bomb” on a birthday cake. My milk pitcher springing a leak. A young magician I knew once almost asphyxiated his dove with the fumes from lighter fluid in his dove pan. Believe me, things can go wrong, however, life will go on and so will you.
Message: Posted by: clarissa35f (May 17, 2008 09:08PM)
While I can understand where you are coming from. I find the phrase " it's just magic." sounds like you minimize magic. May as well tell Luciano Pavarotti, that when he has a sore throat . "It's just singing." Or maybe you tell Kenny G when his reed breaks and he cannot get a replacement right before he goes on stage, "it's just music."

What I do is say.." ... and this too shall pass." While I find your post a good attitude to have about the bad times, I find the tone of " it's just magic" seems to imply that magic is .."No big deal." Not important. Tell that to Lance Burton, and David Copperfield. Now, while I do not claim to have their knowledge or ability, I do aspire to have their professionalism and dedication to the art.

But don't worry about your post... " it's just a post on a forum."
Message: Posted by: Tina I (May 17, 2008 11:27PM)
Initially I think I agree with clarissa35f, there is a hidden danger in the "It's just magic" train of thought. True, the world does not come to an end if you mess up but you should not just blow it off without carefully thinking through and analyze what went wrong. You *should* learn from it before you shake it and move on.

"It's just" might lead to the dreadful "good enough" thinking: "I'm good good enough at doing this so I don't need to practice as much, after all it's just magic."

Remember that your audience is (hopefully) not there to see "just magic". Everyone screw up every now and then but I'll be darned if I'll ever accept mistakes as a part of my performance. I firmly believe that whether you're an anonymous amateur (like me) or a world famous performer (like Burton or DC) there is an important lesson in every mistake and it should not be taken too lightly.
Message: Posted by: spatlind (May 17, 2008 11:34PM)
If y'all read Jaxon's post, he states that we should learn from each performance...
Message: Posted by: Tina I (May 18, 2008 12:26AM)
I read it, I just wanted to point out that you should be careful with the "it's just" thinking and not let it escalate into acceptance of mistakes....
Message: Posted by: Jaz (May 18, 2008 09:36AM)
I think that what Jaxon is getting at that if we've practiced and rehearsed enough that we shouldn't get overly concerned with messing up. If we do, and it will happen, it's better to move on and learn from the experience.

So just relax.

It's just a trick may be a better phrase.
When you mess up, call it a trick. When you don't mess up it should be magic.
Message: Posted by: clarissa35f (May 18, 2008 12:22PM)
I agree with Tina I, and yes I re-read Jax's original post. I can agree with the ideas behind it. But I stand by my post. The " it's just.." thinking may lead to sloppy performing or practice. After all.." it's just magic."

I think that whether we are amateurs or professionals, part timers, or full timers, or Hobbyists, we should always do our best. I think devotion to the art implies that you take an attitude where you always try your best.

Maybe this may communicate what the " it's just..." phrase implies, even if it is not intended.

The example is extreme, but, just analyze what you feel when you hear it.

Imagine that someone you love is about to go under the knife, and is going to be operated on, they are going to undergo brain surgery. You are worried, and before they do go into the operating room you hear two surgeons talking. One says to the other..." gee, I don't know if I should go in there...I didn't get enough sleep last night. " The other replies." Relax mistakes will always happen, nothing you can do about it, learn from your mistakes and move on... after all... it's just brain surgery."

Now I am not equating the importance of magic to brain surgery. To the person being operated on, magic does not reach that level... neither does it do so to the audience. For them magic is just harmless recreation. Maybe I am different.

For me, magic is as important to me, as singing is to Pavarotti, as Music is to Kenny G, as Choreography was to Bob Fosse, and as Magic is to Lance Burton.

Am I as good as those mentioned above? Not yet. But I can try to be as dedicated and devoted. So while the attitude that mistakes happen is one I know I need to accept. The ideas behind .." it's just magic." just minimalize magic in my mind, as if it's JUST something of no importance. I agree it's not the end of the world, but not something to be trivialized either.
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (May 18, 2008 07:50PM)
I think you missed Ron's point. Our "magic" is not to be trivialized at all - it's serious business, and we all need to strive to be our best. But "stuff" does happen, and it seems like it always happens at the most inopportune time. You can practice and practice and everything is really smooth, and then during an actual performance something sticks, or the load won't come out, or you just flat-out drop a gimmick on the floor. This is the time to remember it's "Just magic". Don't get flustered, or break out in sweat, or panic and forget the flow of your routine. Continue on. Harry Allen has a line he uses when he screws up: "This is the first time it didn't work again".


Message: Posted by: clarissa35f (May 18, 2008 10:32PM)
Why is it when I disagree with people they say I missed the point? I got the point. I even understand where he is coming from. But I still disagree. It isn't because I missed the point. I just disagree.
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (May 19, 2008 09:26AM)
On 2008-05-18 23:32, clarissa35f wrote:
Why is it when I disagree with people they say I missed the point? I got the point. I even understand where he is coming from. But I still disagree. It isn't because I missed the point. I just disagree.

When people with more experience in the last year than I have had in my life tell me I missed the point, I tend to listen. If I do not agree with someone who knows more and knows it more intimately than I can imagine at this point, then I tend to think _I_ have the understanding problem, not them.

"It's just brain surgery" is not even a fair comparison to "it's just sponge balls." That comparison is really totally irrelevant to this discussion. "It's just magic" means something different to Burton or DC than it does to you or I. Singing means more to Pavarotti than to me as well. And so it should - these people have revolved their entire life aound their talent and profession. We have not. SO it _can not_ have the same meaning to us, and that's just a fact.

Magic is becoming more important in my life, but it is _not_ my life, nor will I ever let it be. I have walked away from magic before when it threatened to take over my life with its interference. And I will do so again if need be. I believe that if Burton or Pavarotti were told that if they performed one more time, they would drop dead, they would probably choose to live without performing, because it *is* just magic and singing.

I would venture that if you can't look at your cards, rope, whatever, and say "It's just magic", you need to seriously rethink what magic means to you at this stage. It's not that you can't take it seriously. I think those who posted here do indeed take their magic seriously. But somehow they have found the mind that can say "It's just magic", and not have their appreciation or intensity for magic diminished. I think before I can get to where they are, I will also need that same mind.

Message: Posted by: Tablic (May 19, 2008 09:35AM)
It's just magic? I do hope you've never tried to tell this to a professional, seeing as how I know at least a few people who would flip over that kind of statement

something that comes closer to the point that I think is trying to be made is either "mistakes happen, but you got to keep moving on", or "you can fool some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but never all the people all of the time"
Message: Posted by: sethb (May 19, 2008 10:02AM)
I think Jaxon's original point was that although we should always strive to do the very best job we can, some mistakes and unexpected problems are unavoidable. John Carney said essentially the same thing in his "Book of Secrets." I agree that we should practice until we are letter-perfect on our sleights and presentation, but it's inevitable that at some point something is going to go wrong, because nobody can be 100% perfect all the time.

With experience and quick thinking, sometimes it's possible to correct a mistake on the fly or repair the damage invisibly; other times you will just crash and burn. But I think his point was that you can't let Murphy's Law prevent you from performing; you have to confront it and deal with it. If you have a problem, treat it as a learning experience, maybe you can figure out a way to prevent it from happening again. We need to learn from our mistakes, not fear them.

And yes, when you are getting paid big bucks to perform, you need to make sure that you can deliver the promised goods in a consistent manner. That's being professional. But do you think Tommy Downs or Bobo never dropped a coin? Of course they did. But they also had a list of alternatives and "outs" at the ready, and they made sure they entertained and connected with their audience, so that the slip, even if noticed, didn't mar the overall performance. SETH
Message: Posted by: molsen (May 19, 2008 10:32AM)
The emotions, especially disappointment and shame, that comes from something failing can indeed prevent you from analyzing and understanding exactly what went wrong while the details are still fresh in mind. Saying to yourself "It's just magic" helps create a distance from these emotions so you can concentrate on the steps that will help you learn from the experience and crack on with renewed energy.

I don't think the OP meant to say that magic isn't important, or that we should not take it seriously. Remember this is posted in the 'New to Magic?' forum. We should not expect David Copperfield or Lance Burton to come by this particular section of the Café for advice. Jaxon has written many posts here that provide useful insights and assistance in overcoming many of the obstacles beginners face. He even collected many of these in a beautiful PDF file which he has shared with many of us, I am sure he will send it to you if you ask via PM. My impression has always been that Jaxon treats our craft/art with the highest respect.

I do not read Jaxons post to indicate in any way that "It's just magic" should be applied to the way we study magic, or practice and rehearse. It is simply a way to deal with the situation where something really embarrassing has happened, after the fact where it can not be undone. This is the time where we must set our emotions aside in order to understand the best way to move on.

If you read the OP again you will see that Jaxon clearly identifies the narrow scope of this sentence: "When ever you get frustrated with your magic. Weather it's because you're having a hard time mastering a move or trick. Or maybe you had a trick or show go wrong. How about the times that you get really nervous (I'm sure we've all experienced the shakes. There are enough posts in here about it.)."

Clarissa mentions the phrase "...and this too shall pass." which I believe aims at the same. Not being a native English speaker though, there may be a larger difference I do not spot. Either way, it is important that we are able to put things into their proper perspective (whatever that is for each of us), and especially when being new to a topic, I think it is good to be reminded once in a while.

Message: Posted by: Jaxon (May 19, 2008 11:11AM)
It's all about inner game. To those unfamiliar with that term it means what's going on in your head that effects the outcome. An example of inner game in another area would be overcoming nervousness. One thing to try when you get really nervous is to do things you know without a doubt you've mastered so you won't have to worry about it. You know you can do it because you've done it so many times it's almost boring. This is an example of inner game.

Now I knew my "It's just magic" phrase would upset some people. Especially those who are fairly new to magic because that's when the magic bugs bite is strongest. I wouldn't wanted to hear it 15 - 20 years ago either because back then all I thought about was magic. It was almost impossible for me to be with a group of people and not perform for them even when they probably weren't all that interested in it at the time. I drove my friends and family crazy with it and many of them got sick of magic because of that.

We'll all go through different phases in our magic. Not all will have the same phases of course for we're all individuals but there will come a time when magic will seem more like work then play. Just last year Sean Bogunia and I did over 80 shows together in one month. After the first 20 shows or so our attitude was basically that we can't stand magic at the moment. At that moment if we didn't think along the "It's just magic" frame of mind we would have had problems. Otherwise we'd analyze the reactions we are getting and if one audience didn't react as strongly as the last one we'd feel like we did something wrong. Doing that many shows back to back you can't let that get to you. You have to have the show down so well that you don't have to think about it anymore. Just imagine how those mentioned in her like Lance feel doing this kind of things year around. They love magic but I'm sure it at times feels like work to them.

Magic, as important as it is to us as much as we love it, needs to be kept in perspective. Family, friends, health, those things are important. Magic is a hobby or profession depending on what your plans are with it and how hard you work at it. You should do everything you decide to do to the best of your ability and know that perfection is impossible to attain for improvement is always possible. But this dedication should be first and foremost directed to the more important aspects of life. After all if you're healthy and happy your magic will definately improve too.

Relax and enjoy magic. Every single performance is a learning process. Failures are only steps we all have to take. A failure in family, education, health, etc... has much worse consequences then a failed trick or show. That's just magic.
Message: Posted by: clarissa35f (May 19, 2008 11:12AM)
I do not think there is a substantive difference between "... and this too shall pass" and.." it's just magic." Technically if you parse the words, it seems to say exactly the same thing. Intellectually they may even be equal.

But to me there is an emotional difference. I am sorry, I am passionate, and I am emotional. I tend to feel first and think later.

For me the difference is in emphasis. "... and this too shall pass." basically says, that no matter how badly something went there will be a tomorrow, the world did not end. And I agree with that. It is what the OP said. And when you compare that to " it's just magic." Intellectually it seems to be the same.

The problem as I expressed is that emotionally...the "...it's just" part seems to minimilize it. Most people here would agree. To the person that says that magic cannot mean to me as much as it means to Lance Burton. I never said I had their skill,... or ability. But I love it just as much. And I am as devoted to not see it harmed. Sometimes to the point of ****ing off others around me. But if I did not care I would not care.

Someone said rather indignantly that my comparison to heart surgery was completely irrelevant. Read what I said over, try to understand it. I used it to get an emotional response. "It's just brain surgery" maybe equal to a brain surgeon saying... "... and this too shall pass." But... do you really react emotionally the same way to both?? why not? the latter is Philosophical... the former is ..dismissive.

I find it a bit offensive that someone that has never met me can tell me that I do not have a right to care about something as much as Lance Burton does....just because I do not have his skill...or his income. Saying that an amateur singer cannot love singing as much as Pavarotti is a little elitist... " Only if you have his skill, and his income, can you say you love it as much, or are as devoted to it, as he is." Well that is all I'll say on that.

Lastly, if you cannot understand where I am coming from, nothing to be done about that. I guess we just agree to disagree.
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (May 19, 2008 04:26PM)
Clarissa explains it all ....
Message: Posted by: michaelmagicart (May 19, 2008 09:12PM)
I would just like to touch a little further on “nervousness”. There are some people who are naturally nervous to begin with. To give you an example; Sam Berland was” naturally nervous”. You older magicians will remember Sam Berland as an inventor, demonstrator, performer and overall gentlemen. At one convention Sam and I were backstage and I was scheduled to follow him in the “Dealer Show”. I noticed Sam pacing, sweating, and he seemed to be having difficulty breathing. I was concerned that he wasn’t feeling well so I approached him and asked “are you alright”? To which he replied “yes, I always get this way before going on stage”. True to his word, the minute he was introduced and stepped on stage he was fine. I guess this would be an example of the “inner game” as Jaxon had phrased it.
Message: Posted by: Chaomonga (May 21, 2008 07:51AM)
I'm trying to take nothing to serious. it makes it easier to forget nervousness and (for me)it puts things in perspective. mistakes happen, "bad luck" happens, people get cancer, people die, it's just life. so everytime something goes wrong or I feel too much pressure, I just think "hey, it's just..." and suddenly it's all easier. that applys to magic as it applys to everything else. it's not always easy and sometimes I just can't get into the right state of mind, but it made my life a lot more enjoyable.
Message: Posted by: Bertrand Thornley (May 22, 2008 01:08AM)
Clarissa35f, perhaps you should try harder to understand instead of trying so hard to be right. Our egos,left to themselves, will kill us in the end!
Believe it

Message: Posted by: djrdjr (May 22, 2008 10:28PM)
Clarissa ... there are always going to be people here who try to tell you how to think or what should be of most importance in your life. They often have good information to impart. Unfortunately, the smug sanctimony can make that good information hard to swallow. I just try and approach each posting with an open mind and see if there's anything valuable in there for me. If there is, I use it. If there's not, I try to ignore it. Arguing a point around here doesn't accomplish much outside of entertaining others (not that that's a worthless thing in itself). :)
Message: Posted by: clarissa35f (May 22, 2008 11:08PM)
I can understand the idea that if a magic effect does not go well, it's not the end of the world. I had that happen just the other day. I was practicing my Erdnase on the Bus, and this guy saw the card change and He wanted to see me " do a card trick".

So the conditions were not the best the bus was moving, I was getting a bad vibe from the guy... I just knew he was the type that " hates to be fooled." and woul;d more than likely try to sabotage my effect. But I saw it as an opportunity to learn.

I thought to myself.." If it does not go well, the world would not end." I shuffled the cards, and he says ... " You didn't really shuffle them." I was going to do A 4 ace assembly...but then he says.." you have one where I pick the card?" so I switched it, gave HIM the cards and saaid.." here you shuffle and cut..."

Sooo I did Fechter's "That's It." I felt he would get an ego boost when I supposedly went past his card, it would be " magician in trouble." But in this case he would deep down think he got me..

I did learn a few things...his behavior as I performed confirmed he was someone that deep down feels like he loses if he was fooled by a magician... helped me also deal with being nervous, since his vibes kind of got me all jumpy. I have to admit... I am ashamed I really enjoyed it deep down when I showed I had his card all along...I never showed it, and I did not do the "sucker" gag at the end as if rubbing it in his face... I asked " This isn't your card?" " No you past it a long time ago..8 with a smug look*..." What was your card?" " The Joker." " oh.... The Joker..* turn over the Joker in my hands..*" The guy got off his chair and walked away shaking his head. The amazing thing is, My nerves were so on edge, the adrenaline so high, that when I did the DL, I could not tell you if I did a Strike DL, or a Thumb Count DL, or a Vernon Pushoff... whatever. to this day I don't know what DL I did, all I know is, I did a DL, and It was good.

I have to say, that thinking as has been suggested that it's not the end of the world if I fail, DID help me to calm down during the effect. My only quibble was with the emotional content that came with the phrase used by the OP. I never disagreed with anything substantial he had to say...Just with the words used.

I am sorry if there was a big brouha-ha over this, since the fact is, I acknowledge his wisdom, it was helpful.
Message: Posted by: themagiciansapprentice (May 23, 2008 12:58AM)
Yesterday, at the end of school, I decided to show the kids 20th century silks, using a devil's silk as the vanisher. So of course the gaff yellow silk poked out of the purple one a bit too much and all of the kids sitting at the front could see it. I told them the effect needed repairing and would take it home and do so.

Instead, I used the devil's silk to vanish my mobile and gave a patter about not having mobiles in exams. Then I put my silk in my pocket and left it there for the rest of the lesson. Phew!! They wanted a trick, I delivered one and will be better prepared next time. Especially, when this trick gets videoed for the website.
Message: Posted by: Jsmith45 (Jun 4, 2008 12:25PM)
Relaxing when performing is the key to pulling off great performances.
Even when you mess up, it may not seem like you did to the audience.
They must just in fact think it is all part of the act, depending how you the performer handle yourself.
Message: Posted by: skillzilla (Jun 4, 2008 02:18PM)
Easy to say, hard to do
Message: Posted by: chias (Jun 4, 2008 08:26PM)
Some great advice in this thread, really inspiring.
Message: Posted by: marty.sasaki (Jun 4, 2008 11:09PM)
Two related points:

I've been actively participating in kite flying. I was a board member of the national kite club, and am currently the president of a New England kite club. I've been involved in kite competitions and have travelled all over the country in pursuit of kite flying excellence.

At one point I was writing a column for the national club's newsletter/magazine titled "It's Only Kite Flying". I tried to explore the kinds of things that Jaxom is talking about. Kite flying isn't life or death. You can have a passion for it but in the end it really isn't that important in the grand scale of things.

The second point is the retirement of a supreme court justice. I wish I could remember his name and the exact quote. When he was asked what he is going to do he said that he was going to go fishing. It isn't that fly fishing is all that important, it's just that there isn't anything much more important than fly fishing.

I view magic, kiteflying, the model making that I do and most of what I do for fun and as a profession the same way.

Having said that, I've made lots of great friends while pursuing magic, and that *is* important.