It’s difficult to put into words the emotions that surface during Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself. Part magic show, illusion spectacular, storytelling night, and clairvoyant event, it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. His poise, grace, empathy, and masterful command of the stage and audience are on a level of genius that I didn’t know was possible. I alternately cried and laughed for close to two hours, completely riveted by the through line and captivated by Derek’s presence. Mostly I sat there with my jaw on the floor because I was astounded by his work.
My friend and mentor, the incomparable writer and storyteller John Bucher, took me and our friend, Ashley, to this show a few weeks ago and I’ve thought about it every day since. I will be thinking about it for many days, weeks, and months to come. Even now as I write this post, I keep getting chills down my entire spine. In & Of Itself is that electric.
Derek gave every member of the audience a gift, personal and perfectly crafted. I’m not quite sure how I’ll ever be able to repay him, and legendary director Frank Oz, for all they gave me—a stranger they will likely never meet—during this performance. Thank you feels so woefully inadequate, and it’s what I have. I mean it from my whole spirit. Thank you, Derek and Frank, for showing all of us what can happen when we show up with our whole heart, pay attention, and make purposeful connection with another person our single goal. It is the purest form of magic I know—to really see and be seen.
In & Of Itself runs this weekend at the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square. After Sunday, August 19th, it will be never be done again.
Have you ever had a dream day? What happened? Who were you with? What lasting effect did it have on you?
I had one of my dream days yesterday and it was magical:
To write, to research, to tell stories, to collaborate with others on creative projects, and to spend time with people who are central to my life. That is the perfect day for me.
“The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~W.B. Yeats
We are hungry for magic and wonder. It’s around us everyday. In the weather, in nature, plants and animals, in our own biochemistry, in every time period of history. We don’t need to look far for magic, for Kismet, for inspiration. We only need to look and listen more deeply. Finding magic can sometimes take work but it is always worth the effort. It’s the best use of time we could make. Once found, wonder’s gifts last a lifetime and usually don’t cost anything except the use of our own curiosity.
I got a gift from the frigid cold in New York City. It gave me the chance to physically walk in Emerson Page’s footsteps.
Walking down Fifth Avenue, the air was so cold that my lungs hurt. I couldn’t wait to get to the warmth of the Met a few blocks away. I tried to distract myself by looking at Central Park. Around 75th Street, I stopped short. People were walking on ice, but there wasn’t a rink there. I couldn’t believe it. It had been so cold for so long in New York that the boat pond was frozen. Not ones to be deterred by signs of danger and warning of any kind, New Yorkers were walking on the pond. I smiled and kept walking.
A few blocks away, I stopped. I turned around. In my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, Emerson goes out into the middle of the boat pond when she’s most fragile, turns to face the Alice in Wonderland statue, and descends how into the Lake of Possibility where her life changes forever. This was my chance to see that view in real life the way I imagined it in my mind.
Was I really going to stand out in the freezing cold just to look at the view of the world from Emerson’s perspective? Yes. Hell yes. I ran back to the Children’s Gate entrance of the park and down to the boat pond. Like Emerson, I was a little timid in those first steps on the pond, and then glided my way to the middle of it. I took in that view of Alice and couldn’t stop smiling. My eyes got a little bit teary. It was just like I imagined it would be.
I said a silent thank you to the setting sun and to beautiful Central Park and to this amazing city that never stops inspiring me and my work. The cold gave me this magical moment to step into Emerson’s world, to be right in the center of it, and I was so grateful. Right now, I’m exactly where I need to be. Yes, this is home. Like Emerson, this is exactly where my life changed forever, too.
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl
This weekend, I decided I was going to spend this week doing two things:
I believe in the power of articulating our dreams. I believe that wondrous things can blossom from good intentions. I believe that commitment makes meaning. And…I think that belief is not enough. We have to work—diligently, consistently, and over a long period of time—to make our work work. Our magic isn’t separate and apart from our actions; action is the highway that magic rides upon. Without action, we’re just wishing and waiting. We can do better than that, for ourselves and for each other.
What if we could think about life from a place of abundance instead of a place of scarcity? What if we could see not getting what we want as a way of making room for something even better?
When I was first looking for a new apartment, I was approaching the process from a place of lack—time was running out on my existing lease, the vacancy rate in New York City is very low, and I was sad and disappointed about being priced out of my old neighborhood.
I was sulking around that old neighborhood on my trip there, feeling so at home and wishing that something there would work out with little hope of that happening. And then after a bit more searching, it materialized. From there, everything else fell into place as long as I kept working to make it so.
Working hard and having a positive mindset is a magical combination. We need both, not just one or the other. My luck turned around once I decided to not be discouraged. Instead I decided that whenever something difficult happened, I’d double down and figure out the next best plan.
As I make this next transition, I will try to hang onto that lesson. It’s tough to do in the moment, but I will make sure to post reminders around my new home so that every day I’ll be reminded to keep my head high, my eyes focused forward, and my sleeves rolled up.
In New York City, I find inspiration on every corner. My novel is set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and deep below the streets of New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History figure prominently into the story and serve as powerful settings for the events that unfold for Emerson and the other characters. This weekend, I walked through areas of the Upper West Side that inspired bits of dialogue and the actions of the story. I could feel them as I walked down those streets. I could see scenes play themselves out. Being a writer is the best virtual reality system there is—all of a sudden the world becomes a stage and you create every detail of the players who move through it. I wonder what stories are still waiting for me on those magical streets.
“Don’t confuse a season for a lifetime. Even your trials have an expiration date.” ~Brittney Moses
Maybe you’re going through something right now that feels sad or painful or disappointing. When we go through tough times, it’s almost impossible to imagine an end to them. But it’ll get better. And you’ll get better. It won’t be overnight. It’ll happen little by little, day by day. You’ll stand a little taller. Smile a little wider. Shine a little brighter. Healing of any kind is one part magic and two parts time. Believe in the power of both.
When I was a kid, I used to watch the show Touched by Angel with my mom. Since then, I’ve always felt that angels walk among us. And on my moving day, I came face-to-face with one of them.
I was stressed on my moving day, and I left the house to take Phin on his morning walk. There was a Scooby-Doo like blue van parked right outside the house exactly in the place that I had hoped my moving van could park in a few hours provided no one else had taken it.
I’d never seen the van before. A man who looked like Santa Claus, long white beard and all, was in the driver’s seat. The van was stuffed with all kinds of items from what I could see, and I assumed that the man was living in his van. I didn’t recognize him but I felt like I knew him. I smiled and waved, and he smiled back. When I returned with Phin, he was still there and again I smiled and waved.
Right around noon, the blue van pulled away and my moving van pulled right up to take the space. When I went out to greet the movers, I found the note pictured here stapled to the tree outside. Angels are all around us, especially when we need them most. Just when you think you’re down and out, all of a sudden you find support in the most unlikely places.