My name is Chad Allen and I am a magician. Magician means that I make the impossible possible for all to witness. But, I am blind.
How can a blind person do magic? I get this all the time from folks. If you think about it, the question is sort of silly. If magic is doing the impossible, what does it matter if I can’t see?
These kinds of questions are merely through the perspective of folks with limited vision. Not visual acuity but through the vision of the minds eye. Their internal view of the world is blocked by the obstacles they find impossible to overcome. They may have the intention of overcoming something but their beliefs limit their ability. An example is the treadmill. Purchasing a product that will help someone become physically fit is the easy part. All we need to do is put it on the credit card and it will be shipped to us in days. But, having a treadmill in the house does not make us healthy. It’s funny, we live in a society with people movers in airports and escalators in the malls while at the same time our treadmills are used as clothing racks at home, right?
I was born sighted but was later diagnosed with RP in high school. It began as only night blindness and later evolved to not being able to read a book or cross a street alone. These were the darkest days of my life; even though I had better vision than I do now.
I was 25 years old and I stayed in my apartment watching CNN from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep. Loneliness and solitude get very tiresome after a while. Eventually, my mind began to think about other blind people in the world. I said to myself, “there must be another blind person somewhere in the world that is living his or her life better than me. If I could just talk to that person and ask them a few questions, I might be able to figure out my situation. I’m too young to live like this forever.”
When I began my search I found an organization of 50,000 strong and growing. It was called the National Federation of the Blind. They had a training center in Colorado where the teachers themselves were blind. I began to attend, and we learned the tools and techniques that blind people use to succeed. I learned about the long white cane, Braille, adaptive technology, home management techniques, and most important, a philosophy of independence. These skills were by no means automatic. I needed to practice and hone my craft.
All of these new skills were essential to my success but there is one concept more important than any of the skills I acquired. It is the secret to every success story we have ever heard or read or watched on TV. This secret makes winners win, explorers discover, and takes the discriminated and makes them equal. It’s the secret to good parenting and the secret to your ability to cross that finish line on the day of your marathon. Some of you already know what it is and others are finding it along the way. But be sure no one, and I mean no one, can do without it. Of course, I’m talking about confidence.
The skills I learned as a blind person were only aids to this very important goal of achieving independence as a blind person through confidence. The entire program was based on this simple belief. I caution you not to make the same mistake as I did by thinking simple is stupid. Simple is genius at it’s best. Once I mastered this lesson of confidence, I became a new person. I embraced my blindness and my ability to live a happy and prosperous life. I learned that it was respectable to be blind and that I could achieve anything I chose to do. Saying don’t make it so but sometime in all our lives we need to be our best friends and take charge of our lives and of our actions. The year was 2001 and I graduated from that program in October. When I finished, the Colorado Center for the Blind gave me this bell recognizing my freedom as a person who is blind.
So, when you run, think about freedom. Be confident in your self and do not allow fear take control. Fear is what kept me at home and away from the world around me. I was afraid to function independently because I did not understand blindness. You are already smart, you sought help to achieve the goal of running a marathon. Go back to the moment that inspired this objective and imagine the goal as if it is already done. This exercise will fuel the confidence necessary for achieving the impossible.
Now back to the magic. I am blind and I perform magic. I dug deep into my being and decided that I wanted to choose a profession that would make me happy every moment I was doing it. It wasn’t always easy but I can truly say that magic is one of my greatest loves in this world. It is the greatest of all the performing arts and teaches us all that we are imperfect and fallible. We must make mistakes and we must fail. The more we fail the more refined the idea becomes. Once we strip through all the mistakes, we can see a well polished stone arise out of our consciousness for everyone to experience. It’s our imagination come to fruition. It is the dream to reality. It is the transformation of an idea into the material plane. For me, that’s the greatest achievement. The highest accomplishment any single person can make for themselves. It is the answer to our existence and the purpose to our being. I never tire from my search of it and I will seek it every day of my life. This is the confidence we can bring to our lives and in turn help others find it as well.
So, here we go!