Tag Archives: father

Kite

My best friend saw a dragon kite in a thrift store today. Texted me a picture and said: “I don’t know why this reminds me of you.”

I do … if you don’t mind me getting a little ‘woo’.

All my life – the simplicity and beauty of kites have fascinated me. In the same form as others love planes or birds … my flying machine of choice is a kite.

Emerald diamonds as pinpoints in the sky, over the ocean. My father’s hands: his engineer’s hands making them dance and dive, swoop and soar with the tiniest of movements. His feet planted in the sand, his beer in one hand and the string in the other. His grin dancing with his eyes, dancing with the kite. Good Lord, I haven’t thought of that in years.

The pull of the strings in my own hands. Bumblebees and mighty dragons and Asian box kites. Pulling my heart up into the sky. Soaring and leaving my trivial pain on the ground.

Putting the taught line into the hands of my own children. Long ago … really long ago. Running and lifting and enticing the stubborn kite to fly. Feeling the wind take it … my children meeting my boyhood heart up there, up there.

“Over the lights, under the moon.” ~ Kate Bush

Thank You for soothing my troubled heart for awhile. The kite found You, so You could unlock these memories.

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Pregame (in brief)

I am often asked how I got started. Here it is, in brief.

It was the summer of 1992, and I was working full time, writing scripts and performing for a themed resort in South Carolina. I shared a tiny office with Ted Loring. Ted is an incredible friend to me, still.

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One of the characters we created was a street magician … someone to play to the resort guests and entice them to come see the formal shows. I visited a local magic shop and learned a few very rudimentary routines.

The job vanished quite suddenly and I took that character to the actual streets of Charlotte … and, 24 years later, here I am.

Cleaning out some drawers, I found my old employee pass. This kid had no clue to the future: two beautiful daughters to feed, both parents and Grandma  Hilda still living, and a road just beginning.

If I could tell him anything right now, I wouldn’t. The road unfolds just as it should and I wouldn’t change even the painful parts. It crafted me, and it is still saving hearts.

Your road is taking you somewhere, if you keep your feet faithfully to it. Strengthen your ability, craft it to your passion and keep the faith.

You’re really going somewhere, and the view along the way is breathtaking.

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With Great Power …

… Comes great responsibility. Right?

Well, of course. But what about a little power … or power you don’t realize you have? I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to state that your main responsibility is to be true to yourself and the journey you are on. Because, honestly: you don’t know who you’re affecting and how.

How’s that for vague? Let me give you an example, a really powerful one. Now understand, things like this are happening to me all the time to a lesser or greater degree. It comes with the territory of being a public figure … of putting your heart out there. Hear this and understand the potential behind it: You AFFECT … You CHANGE THE VERY LIVES of people every day. Every. Day.

When I first got into the corporate entertainment arena (that is to say, when I earned my way in) I had a very regular client, Rob. He worked for a great company that used me in varying degrees on a regular basis and we established a close working relationship. He liked my performance style so much that he started bringing his family in to see me at my regular restaurant gig. I could just about count on seeing them every week.

Now, Rob had a young son: Roddy. Roddy became an instant fan and I would strive to do something new for him weekly. I could always make them laugh and … well, it was just a really good moment in my working week to see them coming in. As I’ve stated before, I think I have more friends amoung my audience than I do ‘fans’. I get close, you know? Rob would even have parties at the beach and put me and my family up just to get a show for his friends and clients.

Alright so, passage of time: I move on from restaurants and Rob changes companies and people slowly drift apart, sometimes. Jump head about 14 years and out of the blue Rob calls me up to perform at Roddy’s 22nd birthday. Absolutely. Let’s make this happen. I won’t mention how hearing that Roddy was turning 22 made me realize jut how fast time goes …

The party was awesome and raucous and I had a bunch of fun (as usual) while doing my work. It seems Roddy has embraced being a race car driver and he’s an up and coming star in his field. He works hard and he’s really good at what he does. Bonus points: he’s following his passion. There’s a good possibility that he’ll be the star of a TV show being pitched to major networks, based on his charisma and skill in his chosen profession. Kudos, right?

Toward the end of the night, Roddy sought me out and we had a very brief but very moving discussion. Roddy told me that he had two secrets to his success. The first was to surround himself with positive, talented people. People with skill and vision, but(most importantly) with a great attitude toward life. The kind of people that believe in you even when you think you don’t belong or you feel you aren’t capable of something. They stick with you and keep you motivated to move forward.

The second thing was: Me. Hannibal. #cardmonkey from his childhood. He told me that when things seemed very tough and dark and he felt like giving up … he would think of me. Out there doing magic tricks night after night and grinding my way toward excellence. The thought of me NOT GIVING UP gave him the courage to push through just a little bit longer.

Responsibility. What you are and what you do affect people. The tenacity to keep going when it seems everyone is against you. Performing night after night after day after week after month after year … gave a boy with a dream the inspiration to become a man on the move. I was overwhelmed. I still am. I’m grateful and I’m massively humbled.

This isn’t an isolated occurrence, either. The longer I work at this it seems the more people I meet who tell me that something I said or did (or didn’t do) gave them a gift of some kind. The desire to strive for something difficult, the insite to look within themselves for beauty and greatness, the courage to LIVE for another day.

And all I can say to them (and you) is: I didn’t intend to be a role model. I just do what I do to the best of my ability and I hope it tells you a good story. Ironically these incidents have given me will and courage, too. The thought that I can’t give up … that someone I don’t even know is counting on me.

I know. Pretty heady stuff for a guy who just does card tricks, right? Only (dear friends) let me state this: I am not incidental. Neither are you. You are unique and you possess a passion somewhere within you that can literally change and save lives and possibly the world. That is a great power, and with great power …

You know.

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Taking Umbrage

At the request and gentle urging of my trusted beloveds, I began searching for a therapist. One that could understand my unique situation … a little background is needed, I suppose.

I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember. It’s not like a cloak that I shrug on and off: more a tattoo that is always there, but sometimes burns and itches like it was still healing. Due to some intense stress over the past 8 months or so, it has redoubled its hold on me, and my sorrow it so great sometimes it worries even my friends.

The Contest is a big one. I’m voluntarily putting my art up to be judged in comparison to others’ works. I had vowed to never do it again, but … peer pressure and pride.
Robin’s suicide. The man I patterned my drive after. He couldn’t make it. His sorrow took him. For all my brave talk about picking up the flag … I’m a fraud. I’m not fit to tie his shoes and … he couldn’t hold on.
Cancer … yeah.
Dawn’s sickness. Slow coming yet sudden in the swiftness in which it took her down. I felt helpless and was then accused of not acting fast enough. This is most likely correct. I’m going to shoulder the blame.
Success. Overwhelming and undeserved, I’m still waiting for the fraud police to show up.

So, I received a recommendation from a trusted friend and made an appointment. I’m going to call her Brady.

She and I seemed to hit it off right away. My first thought in seeing her was that she resembled a very distinct villain from the world of Harry Potter. How cute. How funny.

We started off with her asking some very pointed, direct questions. Events from childhood, life status of my parents, grandparents … tragedy, joys, triumphs and failures. We spoke in plain, raw words for nearly 45 minutes. It was very comforting. We were able to communicate much quicker than other therapists I’ve spoken too. After a short pause, she began speaking.

It seems … I have a generational curse. Now, my health is tied into this. My sickness is hereditary, probably. Something, some defect in my DNA triggered this sickness. It’s probably been in my bloodline for centuries.

My traumas, from the divorce of my parents to the suicide of my hero are my burdens … and my Art is God’s gift to me to help me deal with these burdens. Not eradicate, not heal … deal with.

All the depression, the anxiety, the sorrow … I caused these things by not giving my gifts as a sacrifice to the Holy Spirit. They are entirely, securely, totally mine to bear forever. I own them.

This was all caused by … wait for it … a deal made with Satan. (now, Brady didn’t use the word ‘Satan’, that would be too direct. The phrase repeated was ‘The Enemy’. I swear, you really could hear the quotes around it.) Someone, somewhere, sometime in my bloodline made a pact, whether explicit or implicit with him … and the curse shall be visited even unto the last generation. Brady told me in no uncertain terms that my ancestors were likely serial killers, or at the very least made human blood sacrifices.

The cure may be found in a rigorous treatment of Splankna, acupuncture and chiropractic medicine.

Disclosure here, folks: I don’t believe in the treatment. On the other hand, I don’t have any serious doubts about the diagnosis.

But what I DID get from the meeting was: my misery is real and it’s a part of me because I absolutely deserve it. An honest to goodness professional confirmed what my father first told me when I was eight.

So i went and visited my old ‘hometown’, which isn’t really that far away. I put my feet in the lake in the spot I was baptized in. I felt cold water and … not much else. Same as the first time. (I appreciate the water much more now than I used to, so I did take time to watch for a little while.) I went to the bleachers in the ballpark. On this spot, some forty one years ago, my father (in a very kind, loving voice) proclaimed to me that I could never really hope to amount to anything worthwhile. I was doomed to be a failure and a burden. It was a shame, he said, because he had certainly hoped for a real son to share his interests with.

I feel worse than when I went in, and that can’t be right, can it?

What I’ve written here is just the surface. I can’t bring myself to type all that I’m really dealing with. (Yes … I AM dealing with it. There’s no cause for alarm, please don’t misread my words)
I can’t express it to my family, or my best friend. Not the depth of feelings.

I have work on the stage that still needs to be done. There are things I consider important that I want to say.

But right now? Right now I’m just sad.

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Dancing and Heart Shaped Boxes: Christmas, 2014

Right now it’s Christmas Eve. The kids have gone home or up to bed and I’m siting in the dark alone. By the time I’m done, it will be well into Christmas. Want to go for a walk with me?

This holiday for me has always been about family. The blood ones, the ones who married in, and the ones we invite to the table. You are loved, and I consider you family. You’re welcome at my table … bring a story, a song or something you made.

This year was creative. We all reached out for each other’s hearts. For myself: Carlaysle made me a porcelain dragon lamp, Avalon Rose Stuffed a Joy Tea box with inspirational quotes and petals from flowers I gave her once, Grace made desserts in the kitchen of her newlywed first house and Braiden brought us his music.

 

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“The book of love is long and boring, and written very long ago. It’s full of flowers and heart shaped boxes and things we’re all too young to know.” ~ Magnetic Fields

When I opened Avalon’s gift and saw what she created for me, it brought me to tears. Literally. I sat there with water pouring down my face, unable to breathe. I was very moved, especially since we’ve had some friction lately. I’m more than a little afraid we’re growing apart like I did with my father. And it’s largely my fault. But that is another story. Tonight she showed me how much she thinks about me, and how she still feels about her old man. All the kids showed me: I am surrounded by love.

Tonight sparked memories of my father.

My father and I were never really close. I wasn’t quite good enough to be the son he wanted. That’s a quote from the man himself. Dad was an architect and an electrical engineer. Smartest man I knew. A real straight line thinker. Conservative in his living and no-frills. His vices were whiskey and golf, and those in moderation. He was in the Army and played college football with Sonny Jurgensen. (Look it up). I was non-athletic and a real let down. He tried really hard to get me into baseball and football, but I just had no talent for it. My only asset was that I could take a hit. Even as a young, skinny man, my low center of gravity and … solidity made it really difficult to get me off my feet. Anyway, I couldn’t play very well and had no skill at all. Dad bitterly gave up when I was about 15.

At that age I picked up theater and music in earnest. My path went far and astray from what my dad considered respectable. We quite simply grew apart and I just … started talking to myself and working things out on my own. When I became a magician, he threw his hands up completely. I was a waste; a dime a dozen. His words. Art and frivolity were nice for some people, but he just knew I was supposed to be something … worthwhile, and it mad him very sad that his only son didn’t follow his footprints.

Now … Dad loved to laugh, and I could usually make him laugh. You can’t tell it from any of his photographs, but he had a big, hearty laugh. He just didn’t think show business was a good way to raise a family. On more than one occasion I spied him dancing when he thought no one was watching. Turns out … he was a hell of a good dancer.

Pancreatic cancer took my father swiftly. From diagnosis to the end was just a matter of ano few pain-filled weeks. I kind of got to say goodbye. He was high on pain meds and didn’t really understand that I was even there. He died while I was onstage. I got the news when I got back to my room after.

When I attended his wake, I got a shock. Stranger after stranger came up to me to tell me how much my father bragged to them about his son, the great magician. Apparently he told many stories to them about my shows, the contests I was in and the places I traveled to. And then:

And then …

And then I went to clean out his house. In the back of his bedroom closet I found two boxes. One was full of trophies. Recently dated trophies. The other was full of newspaper articles about me. Photographs. Magazines and video tapes of television programs I had appeared on. A box full of love and pride. Color me boggled.

The trophies? They were for ballroom dancing. My stepmother explained that at fifty years of age, found his passion in dancing, and he was quite good at it. He won several awards and competitions. Rather than display his trophies, he put them in a box, carefully in the back of a dark closet. That is the man my father was.

In a twist of serendipity I bought myself a pair of dancing shoes for Christmas. I saw them and bought them with my father in mind. A few days later a very dear friend gave me a certificate for ballroom dancing lessons. I’m turning fifty next year.

 

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 “The book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing. It’s full of charts and facts and figures … and instructions for dancing.” ~ Magnetic Fields

Suddenly … because of this gift, I feel a little more in touch with the man he kept hidden. Perhaps we shared more than I ever knew. Thus a thoughtful gift changed my life and my heart. I want to embrace you all as family … scars, shyness and everything. Come as you are.

This table has plenty of seats available.

In your hands and in your heart you have the simple gifts to make a real difference. Love, caring, and compassion.

Will you give?

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The Quiet at the End of the Day

Thanksgiving, 2014

My father loved the music of Glen Campbell. My father loved to laugh, but you can’t tell that in any of his pictures or in any of my stories … we never saw my path in the same light, and we grew slowly but inexorably apart as I traveled farther down it. I’m sorry, but that is a story for another time.

I smoked the turkey, as is the tradition. Lemons and spices and cinnamon (because: Cinnamon) and other such enhancements. The kids all came over. We danced a little, we sang a little. We were together. The new in-laws showed up for dinner, and the relations were fun and the mood was high. I hope my children remember this year fondly. i know I will. Even with all the mouths, we still had so much left over … but noting will go to waste.

Forgive me if this seems maudlin or sappy, but I’m very serene at this moment. We did it right, Dawn and I … we raised four smart, loving, giving children who are all walking their own paths fairly confidently. I’m grateful. I’m very thankful.

I had a very moving moment: Braiden and I played chess this afternoon. My father taught me and we used to play together, when we were still pals. For a moment I became him, and I looked at my son as me … and I was very proud. I’m not a bad guy. I spread my art as love, and I give all the love and help that I can, all that I know how to give.

I miss my Dad. I’d like for him to see how great these kids are. I’d like for them to hear his genuine laughter …

Let me say sincerely, because these leaking eyes are making it hard to type:

I hope there is Love where you are.

If there isn’t … I have so much left over … and nothing will go to waste.

h

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A Bit More Exposed.

So … I did it. Then I wrote about it and people responded with enthusiasm and compliments. I felt empowered and grateful and like I’d won some small victory over my demons.

Then … my blog was linked by Amanda Palmer and things went crazy. Overnight I got dozens of emails, messages … all thanking me for taking this “Giant Step”. Folks: I’m humbled. I did this bit for my inner voices and for the 9 people who showed up. I asked for the pictures to be taken so that I could go back and read what people actually wrote. I was thinking of individuals … and, selfishly, myself. i wanted to overcome.

What I got in return was an outpouring of gratitude and love like I’ve never, EVER experienced.

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“I can hear your heart.”

Let me share one story. Not the most gut wrenching of what I received, but powerful and amazing.

October 12 was my daughter’s wedding. We had a big, backyard, down home celebration with family and friends for the reception. Late into the evening I was approached by one of our family’s friends. A young man I had known for years. He asked if we could speak privately and we moved into a quiet place in the garden.

He explained to me that when he was younger he had been involved in a traffic accident that left his chest (in his words) ‘horrifically scarred’. He lived with it in some discomfort … and then he showed his scars to his (then) fiance. Her reaction was less than supportive. She was repulsed and disgusted. Worse, she told and showed him that she was repulsed and disgusted. The scars she laid on him were far deeper than the physical scars he bore.

In time, that relationship came to a close … but he wore those feelings for many years. He has a new love now – and, he told me – he never, ever took his shirt off in front of her. Not for any reason.

Because of Amanda’s re-posting, he saw my words and my pictures. He read and re-read. He cried … and he called his girlfriend to come to him immediately. They viewed the blog together … and he took his shirt off. Such a simple action that we do without thought everyday, but to him, to HER … it was a mountain climbed.

He told me in tears that her reaction was very different. She responded with love. With caring. She embraced him and loved every bit. They showered together. For the first time in his life – he knew the true love and intimacy he didn’t know he was missing.

By this time his girlfriend had joined us and she tearfully hugged me and thanked me … my words and actions changed their lives. This story is just one of many that keep coming in to me.

Which brings me to:

How do I respond to such things? “You’re welcome” seems so trite and bland, given what’s happening. Amanda, if you’re listening: How do I deal with these emotions coming to me? What do i say? I’m so humbled by this.

Meantime … to do it again? No publicity, no talking about it afterward? Just let it happen for the people in attendance?

I continue to walk my path, and I appreciate You walking with me through the dark and light parts.

The original article may be read here: Exposed.

h

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Monday morning, early October

Hello Universe!

Hello friends and fans and people I’ve never met who read my words. (Wow … what a concept.) I’ve got a favor to ask.

My daughter Grace is getting married this coming Sunday. The wedding is small and they will be surrounded by love and celebration. Thing is … I’m coming up a wee bit short in paying for it all.

Weddings, even small ones, tend to get expensive pretty quickly. I’ve been working (and work is grand!), but the summer turned up slower than anticipated and some friends needed some help and … well, I’m coming up short. Not by a lot! Just a wee bit.

I’m a believer in letting the Universe know your need and allowing people to help you. I preach it, now I’m going to practice it: I need your help.

I have Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday night available if you have an event and would like a Hannibal show. How about 25% off my usual rate? Book a future date and get your deposit in by Friday and receive 10% off. (Such a deal!)
I have my ‘Magicians Only’ DVD “The Truth from a Liar” available directly from me for $40. If you’ve been waiting to pick this up, this week would be an excellent time to order it direct from the artist. I’ll autograph it with a special thank you and include some surprises in the package.
The “LIAR!” show itself is available on DVD for just $30. Ditto the autograph and special goodies.
T-Shirts! I have a good supply of T-shirts in S-XL. Show your love for all things Hannibal to the world. $20 pp.

The lecture I did for Murphy’s Magic will soon be available on DVD … more than three hours of Hannibal magic, philosophy and magic theory. Pre-order directly from me and I’ll ship it out the day I get them (projected mid-October) $30pp.

All of these may be ordered online at The Magic Artist Store, or by contacting me directly at info@chrishannibal.com.

If you simply feel like donating to the cause. my PayPal is Chris@hegmagic.com

Thank you, my friends.

Life is Magic … I hope that there’s love where you are.

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Exposed

I had this idea. I couldn’t imagine how it might turn out, what the reactions would be. Would there be fallout? How might it affect my ‘career’?

Recently I was approached by another well meaning friend about how I could make more money doing what I do. This happens about once a week. Now … of course I need to provide and support my responsibilities and I am driven to help those in need … money helps with those needs, but it isn’t everything.

I perform because I have to perform. I walk in faith, I live in faith. Yes, I market and brand myself, but I’ve come to find that the act of just working … doing the best possible show I can present … provides rewards, both tangible and personal. Once I recognized that, my life became considerably easier and substantially more difficult. Contradiction? Welcome to showbiz.

I came up with this plan. A show. A show that could become legend. Featuring myself and two people I care about, both in person and in vision, and an idea I got from Amanda F. Palmer. The show must be ‘pay what you want’ and it must be presented in as personal and as intimate as possible. Sunday, September 21st at UpStage it all came together.

Avalon Rose opened with her recital/ unique rendition of “Oh the Places You’ll Go”. Whimsical yet powerful: Dreams and Dragonflies, Ambition and Failure. She says it like she means it … because she does.
Following this, 35 minutes of me … doing humor, soap boxing just a little ..earning my right to be heard. Following this was a 7 minute intermission. (Play Marillion’s “Man of a Thousand Faces”)

Megan Sky opened act two with a heartfelt speech on vision, acceptance and loving. All wrapped up in Art. I hope she develops this further, or even publishes. Believe me, it’s moving, surprising and incredible.
Following this was Hannibal’s “LIAR!” show. 45 minutes of storytelling comedy magic that digs deep into my soul.

And then … I dug deeper. At the end of “LIAR!” I announced there would be a third act following a five minute break. (Play Tom Waits’ “New Coat of Paint”)
When I returned … I spoke of the harsh things our brain like to tell us. How we’ve been negatively conditioned to see ourselves as less than normal … less than loved. I told of my two biggest hangups or fears: My body image and my fear of trust.
I am disgusted by what I see in the mirror. I am shamed by the way people look at me in public and unabashedly say hurtful things … this of course leads me to my lack of trust in others. I get panicky in crowds, just can’t handle it. In front of a large group? No problem. In among them? Anxious. Paralyzingly so.

I said I wanted to deal with my two big hangups at once, and perhaps help someone  with their own. “Think of something about yourself that you are ashamed of. Some burden you carry. Some evil your brain constantly whispers to you, causing you pain.” I said.
Then … I took off all my clothes. All but my skivvies (in order to remain legal in NC). I passed out markers and invited the audience to come up on stage and write on me. Their burdens, their thoughts … whatever. “If it hurts you, write it on me and leave it with me for a little while. I can’t take it away forever, but I give you permission to lay it down for a time.” I cued the song “Neverland” by Marillion, closed my eyes and raised my arms.

The results were moving, loving and empowering. I am still speechless to describe how beautiful the moment was.
The photographs below tell part of the story. The brilliance of Austin Caine caught my vision and brings it to you. Here.

From my vision through the eyes, lens and heart of Austin Caine … This is who I AM.

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Click the link below to view the entire gallery. Feel free to share the images as you see fit.
http://photos.austincaine.com/Nightlife/UpStage/The-Full-Hannibal/

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A Letter to Myself

Dear Hannibal at 17, Image

You’re going to live to be at least 48.  I know this, because I’m writing to you from August of 2013. It’s beautiful here, and the journey is amazing. Scary sometimes, and rough, but you’ll make it past the darkness. There are surprises and oases everywhere, so there’s much to look forward too.

I do have some bad news:  Your parents are both gone, and your sister isn’t speaking to you. None of these things are your fault, so please don’t beat yourself up about it.

Some good news:  You have four incredibly amazing children. (Three daughters and a son.)

Better news than that:  You’re married!

And that means:  That means you got to kiss a girl. In fact, more than one.

The best news:  Your wife is a complete babe. Beautiful, smart … you find a girl who loves you exactly the way you are. (Semi-spoiler: you already know her, but the two of you haven’t ‘clicked’ yet.) So keep up your prayers, because they will be answered. There’s is a nerd-loving hottie in your future.

On the “prayer” thing:  You still think God exists.  More than ever, really.

Dear Hannibal at 17:  You’re not a loser.  You won’t believe this, I know.  But you’re not.  Things get better. Your next family?  It stays together.  You laugh together, you sing, you laugh some more, your wife lets you smooch her, and while you’re typing this, your boy (he’s taller than you!) plays guitar in the next room.

You don’t starve to death.  Nobody kills you.  You don’t die in an accident.  You get a job.  You have friends, here and there.  You’re not exposed as a complete fraud.  Things are okay.

Turns out, you don’t fail at everything.  You fail at some things, but most “things” become a lot more laughable.  Seriously — life is funnier all the time.  All that stuff you already know, deep down, is darkly odd about your life?  It’s downright hilarious, later.  I know you won’t, but you can afford to lighten up a bit.

You know that ‘hobby’ of yours? The one your old man sneers at and got you laughed off the stage at the 5th grade talent show? It’s going to be your career. Your ‘dime a dozen’ tricks are going to take you to Europe, Mexico and all over the US. You will meet amazing people and experience things you can’t even imagine, all because you tell stories and do some card tricks. Your Dad is wrong about this one.

Spoiler: Your Dad is a champion Ballroom Dancer. He has trophies and everything. How’s THAT for a new perspective, eh?

The stuff you’re ashamed of, that stuff at 17, that only I know about?  God uses you anyway.  Somehow.  You won’t figure it out, but he does.  He loves you, in the midst of it.

That Richard Adams book you love so much, the one with the rabbits? It contains everything you need to know about your passion and your calling. God is in it.

He’s in you, too.

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