In college I used to drive to the outskirts of the city just so I could stare up at the stars. I’d put the top down and sprawl out in the back seat, just to enjoy the peaceful sounds of autumn in Kansas.
Sometimes I’d write in a journal or read a book. It was my way of passing the time and getting away from the demands of school.
One night I was sitting in the back seat dreaming about life after college. I was shuffling cards and thinking about doing a big show one day. I must have been there for hours.
Later, I got back to the dorms, parked the car, and headed inside. As I passed the car I noticed I had dropped a card on the back seat. My hands were full so I thought to myself, “No problem, I’ll grab it tomorrow.”
I walked upstairs and forgot about it.
A week later, I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to find two basketball players standing in the hallway.
“Show us a trick,” they demanded.
They were huge - easily 6’ 6” or more - and towered over me in the doorway.
“Um, okay,” I said, grabbing a deck of cards from my nightstand.
“Pick a card,” I said.
“No. I just want to think of it,” the taller player demanded.
“Okay, whatever you want.”
I knew there was no getting around it, I had to show them something amazing.
Word had spread around the dorms that the guy on the second floor would blow your mind. Guests showed up unannounced at all hours of the day and I would happily oblige them with quick impromptu performances.
When you’re a mind reader or magician, you have to be ready at a moment’s notice. No one would ask Yo-Yo Ma to prove his skills in an elevator. But, for some reason, if I don’t show you a trick before we get to the first floor then I’m not a real magician.
“I want the 3 of Spades,” he said.
As soon as he said it, I froze in place. “Holy shit,” I thought to myself. I remembered a week ago, walking inside and seeing a card - the FREAKING THREE OF SPADES - staring me in the face from the back seat of my car.
I remained calm and handed him the deck.
“Would you be impressed if I could make your card disappear…” I asked slowly, “and reappear in my car?”
They looked at me like I was crazy.
“The 3 of Spades, right?”
I motioned for them to open the box and let them look through the deck themselves. The 3 of Spades was missing.
“It’s in my car,” I said.
“No way in hell,” they said in disbelief.
We went downstairs and walked out to the parking lot. I let them get a few steps ahead of me so they would see it first.
And they did.
They went crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was all anyone talked about for weeks.
That moment may sound lucky but I don’t think it was. I think I had been planning for it my whole life up to that point. I was ready and took advantage of a great opportunity to give some people a truly wonderful moment.
Zig Ziglar once said that “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”
With the tour, my residency in Chicago, and some big shows, this has been a fairly successful year for me - but I can trace that success back to years of working and learning. It’s funny how every insignificant thing I was working on years ago is starting to come together now in ways that I couldn’t even have fathomed back then.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been paying my dues for years and wonder if I’ll ever get where I want to be. But then, out of nowhere, an opportunity presents itself and I feel more prepared than I’ve ever been.