Some questions for those of us that want to Become a Magician

I just finished reading an excellent essay by the girl (woman?) behind autotranslucence, called Becoming a Magician. In it, she writes about the people we look up to. The ones we want to surround ourselves with. The ones we want to be like. The ones that make whatever they do so seem so easy, it feels like they’re performing some magic trick on us. (That’s close to her definition of magic: ‘competence so much more advanced than yours with such alien mental models that you cannot predict the outcomes of the model at all.’)

In my first exploration on the topic, I briefly touch on a similar thought (under “Heuristics”). “Only give advice on things you’d suffer from yourself.  I saw this rule in action on my first pilgrimage to Santiago. I asked a car driver for instructions on what road to take. Now, after having walked 25 kilometers in the burning sun, an additional two kilometers (four, if you’re going in the wrong direction) is hell. For any car driver, that’s a five minute-mistake. For you, that’s two hours wasted. Only ask advice from those who will suffer from their predictions (other pedestrians, in the Santiago case). This rule is widely applicable. Want to become a doctor? Go and talk to doctors – and doctors only. Want to start a family at age 22? Go and talk to people who started a family at age 22. So often we expect others to hold the answers to our questions, only to find out later that they’re as clueless as we are. You can partly solve that by limiting your sphere of influences to those who have actually experienced it.

She (I wish I knew her name) adds a few questions to the introspective part of the journey. I highly enjoyed answering these for myself. So grab a piece of paper and see how far you get! 🙂

  • ‘What is the most capable version of me that I can imagine?’
  • ‘What would I be like/spend my time doing if all my current major problems had been solved?’
  • ‘What are the things I say I value but don’t act as if I value, and what would my life feel like on inside if I actually acted as if I valued those things?’
  • ‘What am I afraid of doing, and what would my life be like if I wasn’t afraid of doing those things?’.