"Pick a card, any card" is the cliché that hounds the stereotypical magician, yet during lockdown, I have sought solace in this phrase.
As I pick up a deck of cards and shuffle them in such a way that the aces never change position, I think of the great modern magicians who have become standard-bearers for this ancient art form. The videos of Jason Ladanye, the sleight-of-hand artist, have become a source of peace during these turbulent times.
We are at a time when it feels as if control is slipping from our fingers, so to watch these magicians, sleight-of-hand artists, manipulators, mechanics, and all the other members of the magic family, is to be reminded that sometimes we CAN control what is in our hands.
We may not be able to grip the past, but we can have some control over our future. This is what comes to mind as I watch the artist deal a perfect poker hand using skills he has honed over decades.
I have now been working from home as an HR assistant for more than a year, and I clutch my playing cards like a life raft. When work or home life becomes unbearable, I use magic to put myself back in control.
I pause, riffle the cards, then make them change color, or move without assistance. It is a moment of meditation that calms me, as it does for the thousands of other magicians around the world.
Lockdown has been hard on countless people, yet rediscovering my love of magic has been what’s got me through, because if anything, it’s made me appreciate the power that “Pick a card, any card” can have.
Samuel Marshall is a writer, magician, and guitarist.