Today on 09/02/15 Brad wrote: "We learn from our own mistakes - isn't it wise to also learn from others'" I heartily agree with that statement. I would add that, in order to learn from our own mistakes, and to get better and better, no matter what level we are on, we must first be aware of those mistakes. That is why I welcome criticism from laymen and magicians alike. When the ego gets out of the way, and the mind is open, there is plenty of room for improvement to flourish. Recently, I have implemented another facet to my practicing and rehearsing - my iPhone video camera. I just set it up against a vase, or candle holder, or book - whatever's available on the table and press the little record button. WOW! The flaws in handling, the flashing, the suspicious moves, the subtle little tells of which I was previously unaware, have come out into the harsh and unforgiving light of day. I just keep doing the moves and/or routines over and over for the camera, watching after each recording, and this has helped me improve significantly in a short time. Am I there? Not by a light year or two. My mentor, teacher and friend wisely admonished me years ago (name omitted due to reluctance to drop names): "Alfred, you are going to improve by reading and studying the classics, consistent practice, and by performance in front of people, but the minute you think you are there, that is the beginning of a precipitous decline."
I would add that aging and especially declining health will inevitably affect performance levels (we've seen this occur to more than one master, and in more than one field), so that is why I really focus on my health (rest, exercise, vegetarian diet, avoidance of addictions other than magic, and positive thinking) as much or more as my magic.