Monday, August 2, 2010

“3 Cups of Tea” ... and Managing Your OWN Magic

Have you read this book? Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. Riveting. I cried before I got even halfway through ... and my most recent former girlfriend will insist I never cry. A true story about Greg, who, near death, takes the “wrong” path descending a Himalayan mountain; a “wrong” turn that changes his life forever, sending him off on a lifelong “one-foot-after-the-other” adventure to educate children in Pakistan’s remotest villages. Absolutely brilliant. It’s becoming required reading for Generals and Diplomats the world over. You should read it, too.

It’s about your life. And mine.

I may not be educating poor Pakistani children, but I just led a group of remarkable musicians across the USA, over 5 months from one ocean to the other and northward up the entire coast, through multiple blizzards, over mountain ranges and across deserts; performing around 90 shows in cities we had never even been to ... with no financial support other than what we made during the actual trip (think I can make all that sound more dramatic?). And we did it all successfully, in every sense of the word.

Yes, we performed around 90 shows in those 5 months. But what’s really remarkable - some would say foolish - is that I probably only had 25 or so actually booked on the day we left Miami, Jan 14th. There was no way we could have sustained the experience, financially, simply on what I had “secured” for us when we left. I would have loved to have the whole tour booked before we left ... in fact, I had previously insisted that’s the only way I would send the band on tour again after last summer’s stressful 2 month tour, when I booked most of the second month from the road ... But that intention proved untenable, certainly if I ever planned to actually get Here II Here to the West Coast.

So I had no idea what would happen when we left Miami on Jan 14th; well, I knew that life would show up to meet us en route, whatever the hell that would look like!

But the point is not to toot my own horn. As much as I am in fact doing that. Actually, from a certain perspective I sound like a terrible manager. I’ll be the first to admit I typically don’t really know what I’m doing. Even I figure I ought to have a much better handle on how and where I’m supposed to be leading these guys. But the truth is I’m pretty uncertain about all that. I know the destination - worldwide household name, more or less - I just don’t know how to get there.

I’ve been like Greg in that way. He typically had little knowledge about what was supposed to happen next ... from day one waking up clueless in a dirty pakistani hostel, not knowing where or how he was supposed to find the materials to build a school on a remote mountainside village; and then not even realizing he would “detour” over a year just to build a bridge to take those materials to the village. It’s like driving at night in a thick fog, unable to see beyond the limited range of your headlights; and the harder you look into the fog, the less you can see. Greg simply knew to get out of bed and get going. Driven by a deeper knowing ... or at least a deeper prayer ... that life would show up to meet him.

On our travels across the country, so many people display wide-eyed awe at the apparent enormity of what the 6 of us are doing. As if we are doing anything different than they are ... than you are.

Sure, on the surface it may look enormous to people who can only so far imagine such a life for themselves, and I may have come up with a clever title in “Managing The Magic”; but I’m not doing anything different than you are.

I’m just calling it out. The details are different, but the reality is the same.

You’re managing your OWN magic.

Whether you’re aware of it or not.

See, you don’t have any more clue of what’s coming for you tomorrow than I do. Although your life MAY have a sense of routine about it ... you might think you know what comes next ... you might even have a plan; some of you no doubt have the future completely mapped out ... but as they say at my favorite healing arts school, Tai Sophia Institute (, “you never know what comes first ... tomorrow ... or your death.”

You’re likely to be removed from this planet before you’re ready to go; before you’ve done everything your heart longs to do. Reminds me of another favorite: “100 years, all new people.”

You’re going to be replaced. Sooner than you think. There’s not much you can do about that. Tomorrow’s as much a mystery for you, as it is for me and for Greg Mortenson. Greg happens to be “up to something big”: an American educating children in remote Pakistan, minus any religious or political agenda. Me? I ran away with a band of guys each powerfully aware that they’re managing their own magic.

As are you.

If there’s something calling out to you ... or maybe it’s whispering ... something that just won’t let go ... just put one foot in front of the other. Thats all you need to do, especially if you think you don’t have either the means or the courage to do it. Take just one step. You don’t need to know much about the step after. It’s comforting to think you know everything about that next step (and the ones beyond that), but you can never really know until you actually step into it.

Life changes in the ordinary instant.” So said Joan Dideon in A Year Of Magical Thinking, the memoir she wrote after her husband of 40 years died immediately from a massive heart attack at the dinner table one ordinary evening while she was in the kitchen fetching his soup.

So go ahead and play with the story of a future. Make your plans. Just don’t believe them. God’s laughing at your plans, anyway. Might as well laugh along and know that you are dancing with life's mysterious and magical ability to show the way every moment ... even if you’re dancing like a funky chicken with its head cut off.

There’s no guarantee whatever next step you take. Staying put where it feels familiar and comfortable offers no security. Might as well get to consciously and joyously managing your own magic.


  1. WOW, Bryan!!! Another amazing post and I think I will be reading this one at least a few more times. I have been in a funk for weeks, will probably be losing a job soon that in reality I was probably done with anyhow and am just feeling so done with life in general (except, of course, when I am listening to Here II Here!). Just last week I was doing The Work on "I need to know what's next." Is that true? Lots of love, my dear! Cheryl

  2. Beautifully put Bryan! I Love your blog and your Heart felt messages. I needed to read this tonight. Im in the space of just taking it one step at a time... one step in front of the other... and the next one will follow effortlessly. I have found that it is the action of taking the first step then trusting in the next... then having the courage to take another. At some point it changed from courage into being compelled by something greater. Now Im just trying to keep up because the journey is happening with our without me. Im showing up because I don't want to miss out on the magic. I know that it is me coming into the knowing that I do hold that magic that opens up limitless possibilities and they magically show up one step at a time. Thank you for your beautiful inspiring post. It is a gift to know that others walk their path the same way and see how beautifully life unfolds when they do. You are an amazing writer Bryan and a beautiful Soul. Thank you for sharing your experiences from an open Heart that is full of wisdom and weathered from experiences. You have confirmed to me that it is as simple and easy as a step at a time and all else will follow. Im excited to see what happens next for you. Until then keep on taking it a step at at a time. It is truly miraculous what has happened to you as you have done so with this tour. Thank you for sharing :) It truly is a gift!