(Video link here.) In a recent post at the Houdini File, David Saltman rounded up a huge trove of formal public challenges to magician/escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini,  inviting him to escape from all manner of restraints, one more complex and seemingly-impossible than the next.  According to Saltman, Houdini accepted every single challenge issued:

every challenge a new opportunity and a path to glory, he always said ‘Yes.‘ He never backed down – he took on all comers.”

Saltman’s rigorous research has taught us that Houdini, who has long been seen as a kind of caricature, was an immensely disciplined man, who adhered to a fierce set of personal principles and practices designed to help him master his craft, and the undermining weakness that plagues most people: fear. Each challenge issued forced him to solve a whole new set of problems, to use his talents and knowledge in new ways, and almost always, to improvise. We love his principle of viewing every challenge as an opportunity. He spent his life cultivating that mindset.

We are knocked out by this variation of the beautiful sleight-of-hand Houdini would do for impromptu requests to “do something magical” (here performed by the brilliant, underappreciated Giacomo Bertini).

It shows that with a great deal of discipline and practice, ordinary mortals can, indeed, perform magic.


houdini challenge

houdini doing trick

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *