After a college show this past semester one of the students on the activities board asked me, “What did you think of the audience? Most performers say we have a rough crowd.” I didn’t really think they were different than any other audience so I replied, “They were great.” Which they were. “People are people, once you give them a smile and let them know you are just a person like them, they smile back and put their guard down.”
Later driving to my hotel this interaction got me to thinking about a larger question: are people really that different from one another? I think most people think so, but I have to disagree. I have the privilege of seeing every corner of the country in every kind of town and city. I get to interact with, talk to, and perform for every kind of person. Every age group, every skin color, every sexual orientation, every religion, every accent, and every political affiliation. In my experience people are people. Some of the details change, but at the core people are all the same with very few exceptions. We all require the same basic things to live and be happy. We all like to laugh, we all like to love and feel loved, we all want to belong, we all want to be happy, we want to wake up everyday and look forward to something.
Maybe I have a skewed perspective because I get to see most of these people when I perform magic for them. Magic has a way of leveling the playing field with its universal appeal. The only real problem magic runs into is getting over someone’s ego. (Some people feel magic tricks are beneath them, this is a very small percentage though.) Magic has its universal appeal because it’s aimed at one of your most basic emotions, wonder. Even if my perspective is skewed, it still helps prove my point that people are people. We are all the same at a basic level, it’s just the details that change. When I show something amazing to someone they are going feel wonder, shock, awe, excitement, they'll laugh and/or smile, or some version of that. I get to see people at one of the most basic levels of being human, and see people without any pretense.
I have always had the basic opinion my entire life that as long as you don’t interfere with how I want to live my life I don’t care how you live your life. I don’t know what’s best for your life and you don’t know what’s best for mine. I think it’s wonderful there are so many ways to live, and like to see and learn about them. It’s easy to sometimes judge others if they live or think differently than you, I do it sometimes and catch myself in the act. Then I remind myself that people are people, we are all the same. That’s the place I find love and empathy for everyone no matter what our differences are.