They're a very interesting, and unbelievably diverse, group. Baptist ministers. Congregationalist ministers (who were once also working with a hospice). Corporate trainers. Truck drivers. University professors. University presidents. Internationally renowned entertainers; entertainers that are nationally known and are certain to become internationally renowned. One of our number just finished opening for the Republican convention that was just held here in Vegas; he used to be a gondolier at the Venetian. And a university professor—he used to teach at UNLV.
I'm one of their presenters; I have been presenting for years, and they always ask me to give the presentation that opens the conference. No pressure! One of the people I shared the stage with yesterday was with Magicians Without Borders, an amazing organization; the gentleman who presented has himself, according to the United Nations, performed for at least a half million refugees. One of his current projects: teaching magic to children in Mumbai, so they can have a different income source than the sex trade. Amazing, what magicians can do.
But as diverse as we all are, we are all the same. Everyone here has stood on the very wide, very well-paved path of "here's how magic is done"... and they stepped off the path, and walked into the wilderness. Because they sought their path. The path that is theirs, and theirs alone. The path that is calling to them... the path that is waiting for them. And in walking that path, and becoming wholly transformed by that journey into the performer they were born to become, they seek to use their art to bring that same shamanic transformation to others; the amazing magical experience, if only for a moment, of the beauty, the wonder, the... magic, of simply being alive.
The conference is called "Magic and Meaning." Certainly, for someone on the M.S. journey, hobbling through the wilderness as best he can searching for the path that has (to his surprise, amazement, and often grief) chosen him, calling him to shamanic transformation from the life that he knew to the life that it wants him to find... it really should be called "Magic and Metaphor."
And the amazing thing is... all of us are alone in the wilderness, searching for the path that is ours and ours alone. And yet, in that search, we are together; we are never alone, because we're all searching for the same thing. The same top of the mountain—it's just the road to get there that's unique to each of us.
Life imitates art imitates life, doesn't it?