The Art of Smoke and Mirrors

Image © Sandy Hibbard

The Art of Smoke and Mirrors

I am reminded of a trip I took a few years ago to see my big sis who was living in Nashville at the time. We started the day walking through the village, getting a cup of java and sitting outside to watch the people pass in a misty, drizzly rain. My brother flew in to meet us from Park City and my little niece was also there. It was a wonderful time with some of the most real people I know, people who have lived life, been to hell and back, and are coherent enough to tell about it! I realize today that the journey we have all been on has brought us each to a place of NOT knowing! Funny for a bunch of preacher’s kids who use to have all the answers down pat. Here’s my recollection of and the inspiration received from that trip…

In our conversations on the patio late (until 3 am), after having enjoyed a night out with friends at Whitfield’s Bar singing (as we always do) around the piano and entertaining our entourage, we discussed the changes we see in our culture and what I will hopefully admit is an emergence of more tolerance for all people. Less judgment, more freedom, thinking freely and more confidently about life and our place in all of this. Scary to many, and a reality for a few. I like what I am seeing, although i know it is upsetting the status quo. I like the idea where we can accept each other without judgment, knowing that we are all just human beings trying to live and love and be happy in this life.

As a musician/singer/performer and growing up as a preacher’s daughter in the mid-west, I can talk to you as an expert about smoke and mirrors. Not the kind David Copperfield may use, but the smoke and mirrors that are all too familiar in our daily lives. The kind that fool the simplest of us, that can take away our faith.

The art of smoke and mirrors as I see it is sometimes deliberate, sometimes carefully crafted, and sometimes the result of our own insecurity. An old friend of mine who has a band is a good example. Although she is really not a good singer, she knows the art of smoke and mirrors and uses it when on stage. She will draw your attention away from her voice with her movements, the guitar and loud sound of the band, the lights, the stage, the show. You will be awed when you see her, but you will really never HEAR her. She knows how to work the smoke and mirrors. Sound familiar? What about the preacher/evangelist who wows you with their passion and emotion, but when you really listen to what they are saying, it is empty rhetoric and lacking in real knowledge. Then there is the marketer who just hounds you to death through stupid emails and marketing jargon, telling you how big you can win if you buy their product, but they never really share any knowledge. Smoke and mirrors. It has worked for centuries in business and in the entertainment industry. Sad though, because like my singer friend, it leaves the person behind the mirror empty, and unfulfilled, lost without a confidence of any kind.

Now, let’s turn the table. What about the singer/performer who is aligned with himself, practiced, passionate, skilled and REAL in his performance. After their performance, you walk away with a memory and a moment in your life that has brought change and magic. The speaker who changes your life with truth you can take home with you and passion you can align yourself to in the real world. Then there is the teacher who is not fooling her students with generic, canned generalities (smoke and mirrors), but sharing her heart, her knowledge, connecting and changing lives in the process.

What I am talking about friends, is being real. Being humble, accepting and loving, passionate and committed. Embracing the gifts in you and crafting them so that they become real. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, many of us have to have all our hair rubbed off in life to become real, to accept the fact that we are who we are and cannot be anyone else. In my sisters bath room she has a sign on the wall that says “She decided to be herself since everyone else had already been taken”. I like that.

Maybe the Art of Smoke and Mirrors works well for some people, they can get by. But for me, when it comes down to it, in this life, we have one pass, one opportunity to be real, to reach in and grab all we can get to experience the beauty and adventure of every moment. One breathing life to love the people in our lives, to effect change in people by sharing who we are. I do NOT want to miss that. I do not want to wake up and realize that what I had been after wasn’t real at all, or that what was BEHIND the smoke and mirrors was really a hell of a lot better!

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