This is my compass and what I have written in my magic notebook.
‘A sensitive person gets paid for playing. That’s the art of life,’ Alan Watts.
This is what I try to live by. This is my compass. When I feel that I’m not playing and having fun with what I’m doing, I reevaluate and check with myself. Since I was in school, I have been a fan of quotes. I even subscribed to a daily email with an inspiring quote (when email was starting, haha!) and made my favourite 50 quotes (one day, I’ll translate them and share them with you), but this one has struck me and has guided me through my life.
Because of the length of the post, I’ll separate this blog into two parts. The first one will share the story of how I found the quote, and the next one with more specifics about it and how to avoid some of the traps (it’ll make more sense later)!
It all started as a moment of synchronicity (when two or more unrelated events occur, and suddenly everything clicks and makes sense). I was in my University years when I stumbled across an Alan Watts video (This was the first video I saw). After a few days, I gave it more thought and became very curious about what he was saying, so I started to dig for more information about him. I went to the library and found one of his books (this book I haven’t seen in the original English translation).
After reading it, I bought and read everything I could find from him and other similar concepts like Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and others philosophies like Stoicism (Marcus Aurelius and Seneca). Also, almost simultaneously, I got back into doing magic (since I moved from the capital to another city, I stopped doing magic for nearly two years).
The moment of synchronicity wasn’t this one, but it happened around two years later when these two different interests (magic and philosophy) were already part of my life. At that time, I read a lot of philosophy and psychology, did magic regularly and attended a magic school.
One day while watching some videos of magicians on youtube, I saw Eugene Burger (probably this video), a magician who at first was a university professor teaching religion and philosophy and then later became a full-time magician in Chicago. I loved his style. He was funny and engaging but also very interesting and profound, I loved it!
Interested in his magic and his thinking, I bought one of his magic books. When I started reading it, to be honest, I wasn’t very impressed with the magic (probably, at the time, I didn’t appreciate the simplicity of it). Still, I loved the philosophy and the thinking behind his magic. I was interested in how he talked about oriental philosophy and some of the concepts I have been reading about. I felt I was in the right place, reading this book exactly at this time in my life.
The moment that surprised me was that in one of the chapters, he had a conversation with a philosopher about how interesting it is to earn one’s living by having fun. That philosopher was Alan Watts! Getting paid for playing… (Part I) He said: ‘A sensitive person gets paid for playing, that’s the art of life’). Eugene talked with Alan 10 days before he passed away! This struck me, and I have kept the quote since I first read it around eight years ago.
Since then, I’ve been an avid reader of philosophy and psychology, but also I love performing and having fun playing on stage. This phrase has connected with me and reminded me to check my priorities.
Next week I’ll share the second part of this post. I’ll be commenting more on the idea of playing, flow and some of the traps we can find in our path. See you next time 😉