Perhaps that title should say “When Magic isn’t for you”, as I don’t want you to assume I’m calling you out.
I was going to write a blog on failure. I’ve failed, we all have.
But there seems to be a new trend on social media, the ‘woe is me’ quitting trend where people write a heartfelt goodbye to an art they profess to love… Only to return to it 3 days later when their pity comments are mistaken for encouragement.
We’ve all seen these kinds of posts:
STATUS = “I’m quitting/stepping away/having second thoughts/giving up on magic”
COMMENTS IN REPLY = “Awww noooo”
“Bro, much love, get in touch if you need to chat”
“Can I have your XBox?”
It’s a low quality cry for help, disguised as action.
The real issue isn’t that they do quit, it’s that they don’t.
I think that’s worse.
Claiming to quit and then re-surfacing days later, only to quit again a few months down the line.
The art of failure is knowing when to quit. Not every solider gets to be a marine, and not every magi will make it as a full time magician.
That’s a tough pill to swallow.
The good thing is that this blog outlines when you should quit, how to fail gracefully, why nobody cares and what you should do next.
Belt up, strap in and if this doesn’t apply to you I’ll try and squeeze in a golf joke so it’s just as fun to read.
WHEN YOU NEED TO QUIT
There’s two stages in life in which it’s appropriate to quit.
– When you absolutely hate it.
– When you’re about to fail, again.
Let’s tackle these individually, as they’re not that simple.
Quitting has a bad wrap. Quitting smoking is good. Quitting a crime, whilst mid-crime is fantastic… good for you.
There are times when quitting is in your best interests, so it’s important to know that quitting something and being a failure of a human being are two different things.
The 1st time you’re allowed to quit is when you absolutely hate something, so if you’ve lost love for magic now and the very thought of a sponge ball makes you squirm, then it isn’t for you. Get out now.
Don’t confuse that with dislike. I dislike deadlifts, but I still have to do them because my dislike doesn’t over-power the good they’re doing for me.
You have to absolutely hate something to fuck it off. Real, visceral hate that bubbles up from within.
Like when a stray cat shits on your doormat and you step in it when you’re leaving your house, ruining your new boots whilst simultaneously smushing it deeper into the fibres of your nice ikea doormat. It had a stag on it, WHY GOD WHYYYYYY?
That feeling is hate.
If that’s how you feel about magic. It’s not for you.
The 2nd time you’re allowed to quit is if you’re about to fail again. Not fail for the first time, but again.
Trying is excellent, but there’s a torturous repetition to trying that seeps into madness after a while.
I wouldn’t try to grab a hot potato from the oven without a tea-towel, knowing what I know about the task allows me to safely assume I’ll never conquer it without getting burnt… No matter how hard I try.
Sometimes life is like that.
You try, you fail. You try, you fail. You try, you fail. You try, you fail. You try, you… oh forget it.
That last moment is where the reward isn’t worth the risk anymore.
Do you have bills? Debts? A family to support?
There’s only so many times you can try before it becomes irresponsible to pursue something.
Let that sink in, because it does apply to some.
Sometimes pursuing something you’re unlikely to succeed at becomes irresponsible given certain circumstances.
No hobby is worth losing your house over.
“I THINK, THEREFORE I AM”
I had postmodernism seminars 3x during my University course, that famous quote was brought up in all 3 of those lectures.
I believe that people’s reluctance to realise magic isn’t for them is how they categorise it.
They hold it in such high regard.
My thoughts are that they believe that just because they do magic, it defines them.
I’ve witnessed people talk about magic with almost psychopathic intensity.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like magic, some would even say love. I’m not nihilistic to the point of disregarding it.
However, it is just an art/hobby. Like golf, but less boring and with less chance of you getting in any holes.
The reason for some people claiming to quit magic is that their consulting job has come to an end, they’ve been let go or they’re not getting enough gigs.
They fear that by failing momentarily, they can no longer be associated with magic.
It’s simply not true.
We all have ups and downs in life. Maybe this is a bump in the road? Would a Starbucks job be that bad for a year until you get yourself back on your feet?
YOU AREN’T ABOVE ANYTHING
I’m a strong believer in the honour of hard work.
In my mind, I’m not above anything.
If I lost my job (and I have before) I’d just get another one. Even if it wasn’t as good.
Bills wait for no man.
Luck is on my side. I’m 27 and don’t have kids or a wife to support. I have a girlfriend, but she’s happy with a latte and Netflix, so if times got tough, we’d be okay.
However, if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be wasting time with Facebook status updates.
Re-stocking shelves, retail sales, being a waiter etc. I’d happily do ANY of those jobs rather than take money off the state.
I got fired before for serving a family member and giving them a 10% managerial discount on a suit. (I was the manager)
That night, I circulated my CV online and 5 days later started a new job in a completely different field, IT.
I’ve seen multiple people/friends lose their jobs or not get enough gigs to get by.
Why not grab another job?
Living your dream is one thing, but it has to come after actually living.
Maybe I should change this blog title to ‘Magic isn’t for you… yet’.
GET BACK ON THE HORSE… LATER
When I was 16 I performed magic at corporate events, in wine/cocktail bars and at weddings. I did really well via word of mouth until after a few years I started to fall out of love with performing. Unless it was on my terms.
Less and less gigs came my way… I quit full-time performing.
So for the few years I was in University, I worked as a doorman.
It’s like magic as both professions will get you dry-humped by drunk middle-aged women.
It was a stop gap that paid 3x what my friends on my course were earning. I never saw it as a long term thing.
Magic was always my end goal, but I wasn’t afraid to turn left for a bit until I was ready to carry on down that path.
If you have to step away, then do it quietly with the doors held firmly open, allowing you to come back when you’re a little bit more experienced, mature or hungry for it.
I was never able to do the ‘Erdnase Go Round’ flourish by Dan & Dave at age 16. At age 18 or 19 I met them in real life. They showed me again and I nailed it first time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and often coming back to something later (like that flourish), with more knowledge, allows you to succeed the second time.
Publicly shaming yourself does nothing to build your reputation towards your comeback.
Sometimes a career in magic isn’t for you. That’s okay.
Sometimes it’s not right for you at this time. That’s okay too.
Don’t air your dirty laundry online unless you plan on getting a new wardrobe.
After all, it’s easier to define yourself by your actions and not by your cool hobby.
Photo: Kristopher Roller