Simplicity is Expensive and The Importance of Failure (How I learned Close-up Magic)

Simplicity is Expensive and The Importance of Failure (How I learned Close-up Magic)

When I was 13 years old I was watching TV. The magician David Blaine was about to perform magic to strangers on the street. What he did flew my mind. He asked a couple on strangers to open a brand new deck of cards, the spectator selected a random card. The card was the 4 of spades. David grabbed the card, and very slowly he made the suits in the 4 of Spades move positions. The spectators lost their minds. David moved all 4 of spades into the corner of the card.

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When I saw that my mind was blown, that's when I decided I wanted to learn how to do magic with a deck of card. For a lot of 13 year olds magic is a hobby that lasts a couple of months. For me it became a true obsession and a passion. Magic is a hobby I've practiced and loved for over 10 years now.

Here's a video I made showing some stuff after years of practice:

What magic taught me

What I learned from magic is that simplicity takes a long time to master. That trick by David Blaine looked so simple. He performed that trick in under 2 minutes. However I wasn't aware of how many hours, days, months or even years of practice it takes to deliver that 2 minute performance. When I started learning close-up magic I realized that simplicity is expensive.

Simplicity is expensive

Simplicity costs a lot of time and effort. In order to master a skill and make it look "easy" we must spend countless hours of practice, failure and frustration.

Failure over and over

Close-up magic taught me this the hard way. when I was 14, I remember practicing some "simple" trick for a couple of minutes. Then by the time I tried to show the trick to my younger brother, my hands were shaking I was nervous, so I messed up the trick. I made a fool of myself and my brother made fun of me. As a 14 year old I was so frustrated, thankfully I was persistent. I realized that the next trick will take hours of practice rather than minutes.

Practice, practice and more failure

This time I dedicated a few hours of practice in front of the mirror, then I showed it to my brother. This time I didn't mess it up, but he discovered how I did the trick. I was so annoyed at this, I realized each new trick would take me weeks to master rather than minutes or hours. Turns out that my brother was too freaking good at discovering the methods behind my tricks, the silver lining was that he was pushing me to be better.

Improvement at last

As the years passed I got better, by the time I was 17 I was able to perform tricks to adults. By the time I was 19, I got paid a couple of times to do magic tricks in restaurants and events. The apparent "simplicity" of the tricks I learned took me years to learn.

The unexpected journey

My love for magic took me on a crazy life path, I loved the unique type of emotion that magic awakes in people. This love for the "impossible" lead me to become interested in VFX (Visual Effects) Thanks to my amazing parents I got my first laptop, I learned how to edit and started making random YouTube videos in 2011.

As I got better I learned to do things like this:

My love for magic and VFX transitioned into a love for film-making and story telling. I decided I'd go to film school (that's a story for another day). As I grew up I discovered I wasn't a specialist. I didn't want to focus on just one hobby, passion or career. I wanted to do it all. For years this way of being gave me an identify crisis, until I finally decided to make a personal philosophy out of it and I called it:

My journey took me towards this list of passions:

- interests -

NameTags
Taoism
philosophy
Stoic Philosophy
philosophy
Animation
Art
Film-making
Art
Photography
Art
Video Editing
Art
Street Magic / Close-up Magic
Art
PKM
Productivity Systems
Zettelkasten
Productivity Systems
Task Management systems
Productivity Systems
Linux
Computer stuff
Web-Design
Computer stuff
Terminal utilities
Computer stuff
Vim addict (keyboard shortcuts)
Computer stuff
Juggling
Random Skills
Pen Spinning
Random Skills
English (second language)
Languages
Italian (third language)
Languages
Latin (classical pronunciation)
Languages
Esperanto
LanguagesConstructed Languages
Toki Pona
LanguagesConstructed Languages
Parkour
Sports
Basketball
Sports
Stenography (alternative typing method)
Computer stuff
Guitar
Music
Piano
Music
Ukelele
Music

With every skill I acquired through the years I discovered the following:

  • Simplicity is the ultimate goal
  • Curiosity is everything
  • Identity is a choice
  • Failure is essential

Simplicity is the ultimate goal, but the journey towards it is not easy. Failure is the natural path towards any form of mastery. The fear of failure is a desease that we must learn to avoid. Following my curiosity lead me towards so an unexpected live path that I'm so grateful for.

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I hope you enjoyed this little story, here's your homework, reflect on this question:

How is the fear of failure holding me back?

Write a 2000 word essay reflecting on that question. Due date is by the end of next week

submissions must be sent here:

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