Category Archives: Musings

Summer ’77

Scotch Bonnet Pier, Topsail Island
I learned to shag (a dance rather native to the Carolina  beaches. I know the word has other connotations.) on the beach, under that pier. Danced most of the afternoon and into the cool of the evening with a pretty girl I met that day … and never saw again. One of the sweetest, most romantic times of my life.
The song I remember most was “A Quiet Place”.

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Fishing

I found the older man sitting at his usual spot at the end of the long, long pier.

“Gramma says dinner will be ready at 7 … and could you bring home some milk?”

He slowly shifted his pipe in his mouth. “Hello, Buzzard. I love you. Wait for a minute and walk with me.” He began to reel in his line from the sea. Slowly, without concern. The sea shone diamonds and rolled thickly.

“Did you catch anything?”

“No … not today.” As these words were spoken, the line cleared the water and … I saw that there was no hook. Just the tackle. He turned a bemused face to me.

“Grandpa … where’s the hook?”

“See … here’s the thing: I’m fishing. Not trying to catch fish, just fishing. Being very still and quiet and looking at the ocean. Letting my mind be patient with doing nothing. The pole gives me an excuse. As long as i’m holding it, people leave me alone. If i just sat here staring, they want to talk. Ask what i’m up to, am I okay?

People don’t like to see you just sitting still and letting your thoughts travel. It makes them uncomfortable. But we need it, sometimes. We need to get still and listen … to the sea, to our thoughts, to our hearts … to each other, even.

It’s holy and healthy to sometimes just … be.

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Dr. Z

My mother’s favorite movie was “Doctor Zhivago”; it came out the same year I was born. We watched it four times together. She told me in confidence that she didn’t believe a grand romance like that could really happen.

The second to last time we watched it, I took her to a movie theater that was having a classic movie revival week. The grandeur and the power of the cinematography, along with the incredible story made us gasp and weep openly. It’s rare to have that strong of a reaction to a movie … but this was brilliant.

The last time we viewed it, about four months before she was killed, I gave her a deluxe VHS set for her birthday. At the end of a box of tissues she told me that I had the capacity to love like that, if I’d let myself.

The love he displays is of high caliber. Not just of Lara, though that’s important, but his love of humanity, life and love itself.

Could I possibly? This is a goal worth reaching for.

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Thoughts on the Wind

Thank you for playing along. Thank you for sitting in your seats and listening to my stories. Thank you for gifting me laughter, smiles, squeals of delight. Thank you for Clapping Your Hands and for bouncing up and down. Thanks for considering me a friend. Thank you for accepting the art I offer to you.

There is pain and loneliness, but never when I’m performing for you. You fill my Lonely Heart, and I feel no pain.
So, thank you.

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Pieter

He came into the Cellar theater in the Castle with a group of 3 others, two couples. He was a movie stereotype: the Russian gangster. In his sixties, Shiny grey sharkskin suit, grizzled face, angry expression. Turned out he was, in fact, Russian. His wife wore a stylish bleach blonde wig.

It was just the five of us and I offered them a show. Pieter was super aggressive from the beginning: grabbing cards, insisting on the terms of the show. “Put the cards in my hand and let me pick. Now I get to put it back and shuffle. LOOK AWAY – YOU DON’T GET TO WATCH!” His wife chided him and he sneered at her, all ugly attitude. He slammed the cards down in front of me and demanded I tell him which card he chose. What would you do?

I looked at him intently. (The thousand yard stare I talk abut in my lecture) He laughed to his wife about “All magic is fake and these hustlers are just trying to make me look foolish, but this idiot just got beaten!” (Insert thick Russian accent)

“Five of Hearts”

His face fell and he looked stricken, then angry again. “YOU CHEAT! How do you know this?”

“Because it’s under the Pringle’s can.” (It was)

Then I fooled him again. And again. AND I made friends with him. Jokes at my own expense. Magic that happened in his hand. Stories that riveted his attention. Building his self-esteem until he stopped being a challenger, and became part of the story. I showed him love. I gifted him joy. He roared with amazement when the signed card appeared … and I guessed his wife’s secret word, which happened to be her pet name for him. (медведь гризли)

On a whim, I made him a boot and I told him the story of the nekkid elves. He smiled and nodded and said something to his group. I let them go.

Pieter stood up and hugged me. Then he looked at me with tears on his face and said: “My mama told me this story. I will put this boot by her picture at home.

You are the only magic I believe.”

Now tell me again why I should be doing anything else.

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Musings born of a bad dream

In the leaner years, pre-magician days, I drove a truck and delivered furniture. The days were long and exhausting, and the work … largely unfulfilling, though it had its moments. I looked at my co-workers and I used to wonder where they would rather be, what their dreams were. Sadly, I learned to not ask, because it made some of them angry.

Some days I rode a bike to work, so that she could have the car. Only about 8 miles, and most of it through the green shaded back neighborhoods. I dreamed of big, ivy-covered houses. Later in the day, I might even see the inside of some of these, as I delivered their bookcases and beds.

Returning to our little house, with the attic fan and the big metal grate in the floor that served as a heating system, there would be love and laughter waiting. Stories to tell and stories to keep. Books to be read and re-read aloud.

If the magic thing went away? I’d like to drive a bus, cross country, long distances … deliver people to new adventures.

… or bring them home.

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Redemption

“What’s broken can be mended. What’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s going to rise again.” ~ Dr. Meredith Grey

The plot line or trope or whatever you would call it that I enjoy most in stories is the redemption narrative. I first encountered it in ‘Watership Down’ via Bigwig. A mild arc, but it spoke to me nonetheless.

Then Vader, and later still Shawshank, and countless others; the most powerful being ‘The Wrestler’. The title character seeks redemption and forgiveness from his daughter, and does not get it. So he pulls it from inside himself.

Redemption: Coming from the dark and finding the light, the love … the redemption of a new and better life.

This speaks to me in my life because a redemption narrative says: no matter how broken or wrong or bad or stupid or ridiculous or harmful or sad or terrible you are … you can atone.

There is still a road back. It might be rocky and steep, complicated and messy. Walking it may take your entire life. You may lose your foothold, slip and fall back into the abyss, but the wall is still there. The ascent is still there. Hard is not the same as impossible.

You are never too far gone. You are never beyond saving.

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