The Magic in Failure

I went to a magic show last night at The Magic Castle in Los Angeles.

It was…yes, magical.

We got to see lots of shows and I even got to go onstage and help out the main magician for a trick. He was more of a Vegas style big trick magician and less, like, quick slight-of-hand-centric. This meant, in part, that there was some time to kill between his set ups of new tricks. So he had another act come and do some impressive juggling and ball throwing.

After his first opening bit, the magician said that it had been 19 years since he had performed at The Magic Castle (basically the Olympics for magicians). And he brought back the same friend he had with him 19 years before to help him out and entertain between his tricks. This was the juggling dude.

Juggle dude came out hot and fast. He was good, moved around, and did a bunch of impressive feats. But then at one point, he dropped one of the items he was juggling. Impressively, he was able to keep juggling the other two and quickly pick back up the third and resume as if nothing had happened. He changed the items and amounts he was juggling several times throughout the act.

He was extremely impressive, but not flawless.

In fact, at one point he was trying to blow a ping pong ball on his face and catch it with the bridge of his nose and eyebrows. He did it a few times and even sort of paused and mouthed “come on” before he finally nailed it. Because everything magic-oriented is so showy, it’s hard to know if his failures were part of the show. But what I realized was, I didn’t even care. Nor did anyone else there, really.

The man sat before a paying audience with a lot of pressure to be perfect. And nobody seemed to care when he screwed up a little. Part of me did wonder if he had been actively practicing in the past 19 years. But that was mostly because I expected perfection because I think we all do just out of habit.

What happened when I didn’t get it, though, was that I didn’t care. I didn’t feel slighted. In fact, I enjoyed sort of seeing him fail and try again. I enjoyed seeing him keep his spirits up and keep doing it until he got it. There was so much he already nailed that it didn’t matter to me that there were a few moments of imperfection. It made him human and almost more impressive that he was willing to fail in front of everyone onstage and keep going.

And, perhaps most interestingly, he was still interesting and entertaining even with the flubs.

That was the main takeaway for me from the event. I pressure myself regularly to be perfect, especially when onstage. I think that if I’m not absolutely polished, people will discover me for being some sort of fraud. The funny part is, I’ve screwed up before plenty of times on stage and in front of audiences. And I’m sure I will continue to. But seeing someone else do it reminded me how little I, as an audience member, actually care. I like seeing hints of behind-the-scenes as long as I still trust this person can get us all through it and remain entertaining.

If he had flubbed big time, it might have felt awkward. That’s when the audience starts to wonder if they can trust you to continue to entertain them. But they were just small things that happened occasionally. They were fixed instantly but not without self-awareness and a hint of happy humility.

The flaws were beautiful.

And, dare I say it… magical.

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The Glamour

I know a life of creativity seems really glamorous. Actors and creative types are often thought of as these beautiful creatures that are demi-gods bestowed to us for a short time for our viewing pleasure.

This is only a slight exaggeration.

I want the world to know, most of my creativity happens either in the early morning when my hair is totally wacky, my pajamas are still on, and my face is funky with lines from sleeping on it the night before OR in the late evening when I’m exhausted from a full day so I’m wearing whatever was closest and most comfortable and often have a washed out face and worn out makeup.

Like right now, I’m getting ready to do a chunk of writing for the upcoming “RESPECT” podcast, and my hair is janky and weird. I haven’t had breakfast so I’m strangely cranky and moody. I’m in PJs I wear almost every night until they’re obviously smelly and unbearable (it’s spandex from my high school volleyball days and a pink “Better Call Saul” t-shirt…sexy). I haven’t brushed my teeth or looked in a mirror (probably for the best).

This is how I look when the magic happens.

Be careful what you wish for…

…because you just might get it.

I need to babysit some plants. I was thinking how the only way they stand a chance to survive five weeks in my garden apartment with very little light is if I get a little shelf to put them up on my patio. I thought about the shelf for a couple weeks, knowing full well I wouldn’t spend my little bit of extra cash on a shelf for plants. Next thing I know, there’s a shelf outside my dumpster by where I park my car on night as I pull up. SWEET.

Same thing with a fan I found. I have one fan in my apartment. Summer is coming and I will melt from heat without another fan. Two fans would make for great circulation, but I’m not going to go buy another fan right now because money is really tight. A few days of really wanting a fan, and boom- one is waiting for me outside my dumpster late at night. True, I have a pretty SWEET dumpster. I agree with that.

I had a serious chocolate craving one night. The type that takes over my entire body and it’s all I can think about. Unfortunately, I was in UCB class, so I had to try and concentrate until our break. I was about to book it out of class and go buy over-priced chocolate at a convenience store next door, when someone in class announced he brought brownies to celebrate another student’s birthday. They were double chocolate. He brought plenty for everyone to have a few. I had my fair share. Literally and figuratively… SWEET.

I had an audition last week. I knew I would get a callback. I had no doubt in my mind. I even told my friends, “I’m surprised they haven’t called me yet since I know I’m definitely getting a callback.” It should be noted, this would be my first commercial audition callback in LA with my new (great) agency, so it’s not like this happens all the time. A few days later, I got a call from my agency- I’d gotten a callback. I knew it. I had already seen the phone call vividly in my head.

Am I sharing these things because I want you to be impressed? Maybe. But I always want you to be impressed.

I’m sharing them because I believe that the universe is very responsive to our wishes. When we want something to happen and we truly obsess over it or know it to be true in our heart, the universe makes it a reality.

I believe- through my own experiences (beyond the few I’ve shared here) that we have to be clear and proactive about what we’re asking of the universe. If we don’t know what we want, we can’t get frustrated when nothing in our life is changing. Our mind is stagnant, so of course the world around us is the same.

When you’re really clear on what you want, and you’re specific about how it will feel when you get it- like it’s already happened- the universe will respond in full and make it a reality.

Sometimes, it manifests itself exactly like you thought. Sometimes, it manifests itself in completely different ways, but you get the same result you were asking for. Sometimes, as you focus completely on one specific goal, your gut starts to realize that’s not what you want after all- but the journey of seeking that goal has made you realize something wonderful you really want instead. So you can shift your focus and embrace the new world the universe has provided.

And it’s important to realize that in the process of asking for change within your world, you’re going to get it in all sorts of unpredictable ways.

I’m going through a number of major transitions myself- some “good” and some “not so good,” but throughout the process I’m trying to embrace the fact that life is changing in major ways for me on several fronts.

Life as I know it will soon look completely different from the way it did several months ago. And I know it will more closely resemble what I’ve been asking the universe for. So I need to continue to focus on what I want and recognize that foundations are built from breaking ground. I need to embrace the chaos and major changes- and know that each one of them has an opportunity to learn within it. And each one of them is part of the bigger visualization I’ve been so clear about asking the universe for.

You can’t experience the view of the mountain top without climbing the mountain.

And maybe it’s all random b.s. that doesn’t mean anything and I have no control and there is no magic and people are just animals trying to survive and meet their own selfish needs while keeping the rest of the species alive. Maybe none of it matters. But I choose to believe that it does.

And I choose to be excited while it’s all unfolding.

I’m writing this to share it with the world because I believe it’s true. I’m also writing this as an affirmation for my own purposes. If you don’t believe any of it, that’s just fine by me. If you do, that’s just fine either. I hope either way you can find joy and happiness in your life perspective. This is just a slice of mine.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein