Trust the Process, Chase the Pay Off

Card College and Royal Road to Card Magic

Jean Huggard and Frederick Braue gave us the Royal Road to Card Magic, Roberto Giobbi gave us the Card College series, and countless other magicians gave us entry points into the study of magic. Many (most?) join these authors on the road to learning the techniques, sleights, theory, and methods; all paving a growth path towards more powerful effects and better learning as they become more astute to the language and processes of learning magic.

Some take a different approach. Some jump to the more challenging methods due to over confidence or more often than not, ignorance. I’ve learned there are two types of magicians out there: those who know magic conceptually and those who know magic through practice and performance. Conceptual ‘magicians’ are the content hoarders, they build a library of books/videos very quickly as the bug bit them a little too hard and a little too fast; and they become lost before they even get started. The content acquired shouldn’t go to waste, if the conceptual are lucky they will remain engaged in the learning process and work through the material obtained.

Those who know magic through practice and performance may have reached this stage early into their journey, and course-corrected. Or, they trusted the process of the Huggards, the Giobbi’s, or others who thoughtfully paved a learning path: and those magicians trusted those writing these books. I boldly took on the challenge of tackling Hollingsworth’s Waving the Aces as a beginner, and a month into my study I haven’t made much progress. At the same time I’ve continued to work through the Card College series, the Steve Faulkner Card Magic Course, and the Royal Road to Card Magic, my dedication split isn’t giving the process a fair shake. I’m testing the limits of the process, challenging it, and the lesson is coming into view: trust the process.

The path leading to the forks in the road littered with shiny objects (squirrel?) are distractions from a great path. My approach will course-correct and I will learn a technique, study a method, perform it several times until reliance to reference the source is lost, and performance of the trick becomes second nature. I realize now I can’t afford to jump ahead, the foundational work is too important for my learning process. I’m not saying I can’t be exposed to new material, in fact grazing new and different material is important to understand what else is out there, to learn what’s possible. But I must resist the urge to study new material outside of my learning path, I can’t jeopardize the process; I need to trust the process.

You also need to understand and experience the end results, to “taste the leather” as I’ve once heard it referenced. You need to find opportunities to position yourself to practice the art, to perform magic for another human being, to chase the pay off. The pay off is sharing a moment of astonishment, catching a glimpse of disbelief from a close friend or family member so they can witness your studies coming into fruition.

Building confidence to perform doesn’t solely live with the trick itself, but also with the lead into asking a potential ‘audience’ to see a trick you’ve worked so hard on.  You initiate the experience, you perform, and you complete the process by thanking that individual (or individuals) for their time.  The pay off will be that reciprocation of a thank you to you, the performer, for the entertainment.
The shared experience will feed a new magician’s appetite to learn more, and the building of confidence will stretch the desire to see how else they can astonish an audience.  Learning to trust the process will lay the foundations of a strong magician, and the chasing of these moments of payoff will continue the momentum to get better, challenge oneself, and become the magician you want to be.

Theory Thoughts

Sleightly Ambitious Post #3

Most magic books jump right into technique and tricks, an understandable approach as the majority of starting magicians seek to understand the secrets first. All spectators want to know what happened that caused their astonishment, those more interested in knowing the method are the eager entering the magic world that take the next step to actually purchase a magic book.

Get a few tricks under your belt, perform them with moderate skill, and overtime magic theory becomes an interest. The what and how have been consumed, processed in the minds of the beginner magician, and after a period of time the why questions start to come into fruition…I have a hard time with this approach.

Think about when learning to drive a vehicle for the first time, what does everyone remember…safety first. They don’t teach you how to turn on your windshield wipers, how to parallel park, how to make a left turn. Rather, they teach you about safety, and why safety is important. Lessons around what the signs mean, why they are important, what you need to remember before starting a car, etc. Could the safety lessons equate to magic theory? Perhaps not the best analogy, I figured save myself hours of trying to identify the most applicable analogy, and risk complete paralyzation of publishing this post :).

I argue that the why could be more important than the what and how when starting out in magic. Beginners are immediately suckers for the good and the bad, as they struggle to differentiate between the quality vs the crap. The Ascanio trilogy puts a reader through the journey of understanding his theories, ideas, and principles first. His first book in fact is all theory, no tricks. His subsequent two books are packed with incredible magic. I lean in the direction of Ascanio’s approach…I imagine most would irregardless of the argument currently being made because he’s one of the great magical minds.

I follow the path of understanding the why first so I can better optimize my process of sifting through the what and how. I’m upgrading my shit-radar before it has a chance to become infected with weak art.

For me, Strong Magic – Ortiz.

A recap from my last post…Waving the Aces by Hollingworth and now Ortiz. This will keep my busy for quite a while, Strong Magic is packed with insights.