Tag Archives: journey

Summer Camp

I do one 'kids show' a year, and I wish I could do many more, as long as they were as gratifying, as heartwarming, as the Charlotte MDA Summer Camp. Every summer for the past 11 years, I've been invited to entertain the campers and the counselors one evening, and every time I leave, I'm struck by how lucky I am to have been there.

The children and youth that attend have various forms of muscular dystrophy, but their enthusiasm is unmatched in any audience I've had the privilege to work for. Yes, it's your typical summer camp. There are multiple activities and campfires and sing alongs and home sickness and stomach bugs and everything that makes camp a silver memory that many of us treasure for our lifetime. It's so much more than that, though. As you might imagine, working with the individual challenges of each camper is a daunting endeavor, yet it's done with humor, energy, and style. So much grace …

And there's love. Man, the love in that place is so thick you could spread it on toast. The staff and the counselors bring their best for the campers and everyone looks out for everyone else. Maybe I'm gushing a little, but I'm sincere.

The past three years I arrived wrapped up in my own troubles, and they vanish within the first few minutes. I leave invigorated, happy, and hopeful. And moved. Lifted so high, emotionally.

I'm not …. writing about this to brag, or promote my image. I want to impress on you the value of giving of your ability. Taking your talent, your time, your vitality and using it to enrich the lives of those who need it and see so little in their world. It could be anything, any cause, listen to your heart. Believe this: it's been worth any 'sacrifice' I've had to make in order to be there.

The love you need is where you plant it.

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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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Double Journey

This week I have the honor to once again present my magic and storytelling for the USO during the Reset program. I’ll be in Jacksonville, NC.

It hit me this morning that I’ll be just 30 minutes from one of my true homes: Topsail Island. At some point I’m going to make a quest and locate the places from my youth. The piers are gone, and over 35 years have lapsed, but perhaps a memory awaits me.

Or maybe I’ll make a new one …

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Any Road. (Wednesday, Feb 17 and Thursday Feb 18)

I’ll try to be as coherent as possible, but brain is fuzzy and sleep deprived.

Dawn dropped me off at the airport around 10:30 Wednesday morning and I negotiated two suitcases of DVDs (hooray for frequent flier plans) on board. The hop down to Atlanta was chock full of children, but Dawes and Hosier kept them at bay. I reflected as we waited on the tarmac for a free runway (CLT is still catching up on flights from the storm) that the inside of a plane has become as common to my eyes as my own office or living room. I don’t know if that’s a happy or sad thought.

Atlanta airport was very calm. At least the international terminal was. I sat in front of a massive window and marveled at how blue/gray the sky was. I had a lovely chat with a lady who was getting ready to embark on her own journey: seeking something, she said. I hope she finds it.

Another shout out to the frequent flier gods that bumped me up to business class at the last moment. I got to recline and read, watched a movie or two and chased sleep, but that just wasn’t happening. Delta’s movie selection offered me ‘This is Where I Leave You’; a slightly unconventional romcom  with a massive swerve near the end that I didn’t see coming, and ‘Get On Up’; a James Brown bio. The latter was … odd. Flashbacks, flash forwards, flash sideways. I had to really concentrate to keep up.Not easy on a flight and … well, just a bit too silly for my taste. The actor playing JB mugged to the camera about a dozen times too many.

We touched down in Paris just as the sun was coming up, orange and pink and then suddenly blazing yellow as if it couldn’t wait to illuminate the city. As we taxied to a stop, Dawes reminded me: “If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there.”

I had just enough time to send off messages that I had landed and I had to hot foot it over to my gate, running just a bit behind. Shame, that: the airport in Paris (CDG) is simply gorgeous. Like a long half cylinder of glass, chrome and wood. Lots of exotic (for an airport) shops and restaurants. Fun fact: there’s no class system to boarding a plane in Paris. They basically just opened the doors and checked boarding passes as everyone went in. No ‘first class first’ or zone numbers. Fastest I’ve ever boarded and got settled.

The flight to Manchester was quick and uneventful. When I got to customs I found that my name had been flagged because of a ‘previous incident’ (I’ll tell you later) so I underwent a short interview. About 15 minutes was all it took for them to be satisfied, though some of the questions were odd. “How many pets do you have at home?” “What ELSE do you do besides Magicianing?”  “No, not hobbies, what is your real job? No … the one that pays your bills. No … the one you clock into and get a paycheck from!” Eventually, I got my stamp and off I went.

My driver was Paul. Paul doesn’t care for magic or magicians really. But when he knows he’s going to pick one up (Apparently he does it a lot) he looks them up on ‘the youTube’. He likes my work. I’m … grateful? He goes on to talk about other magic passengers he’s had. In particular he mentions the current IBM Prez, who he really liked and who apparently spent some time photographing Paul’s many tattoos.

Paul deposited me at Fern Villa and I did my best to settle in. Lots of work to do .. but I really needed to shut my eyes for a bit.

Just like I do right now. I’ll finish this story after I catch an hour or six of sleep … Thanks for walking with me.

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