Jaden Maxwell: Il­lu­sion­ist and builder of hope

The Catoosa County News - - EDITORIALS & OPINION - By Ta­mara Wolk Cor­re­spon­dent

Il­lu­sion­ist and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Jaden Maxwell had his first pay­ing job at 9 years old. “I kept check­ing the same magic book out of the school li­brary over and over,” says Maxwell, “and one day the li­brar­ian — Mrs. Kelly — told me I should do a magic show for the other stu­dents and she’d pay me.”

Maxwell earned five dol­lars for that first show. Thirty years down the road, he makes his liv­ing do­ing what he loves best — us­ing il­lu­sion as a means to con­nect with peo­ple and to con­nect peo­ple with them­selves and with one an­other.

The Ring­gold-based il­lu­sion­ist has per­formed in all but four U.S. states and in Mex­ico. He per­formed when he was in the Marines for Ge­orge W. Bush (he “stole” the pres­i­dent’s watch right off his arm) and has per­formed for deaf and blind au­di­ences.

Maxwell’s mother gave him a coin trick when he was seven years old. It was one that Maxwell’s fa­ther had in his pocket when he was killed by a drunk driver. The fu­ture il­lu­sion­ist was still in his mother’s womb at the time of the tragedy, a month away from en­ter­ing the world.

“When my mom showed me the coin trick then showed me how it worked,” says Maxwell, “I was bummed out. Then I de­cided I wanted to learn to re-cre­ate the magic I felt be­fore I knew the se­cret.”

There was no in­ter­net in Maxwell’s early days, so he learned magic the old fash­ioned way — he im­mersed him­self in books. “Adults were amused by my in­ter­est. They thought it was cute, but not some­thing to make a ca­reer of.”

Nev­er­the­less, Maxwell per­sisted and by high school he knew magic was more than a hobby for him — it’s what he wanted to do with his life. There would be some side trips, both good and tough, along the way — his stint in the Marines, a mar­riage that didn’t work out, even a short time of home­less­ness — but he never stopped be­liev­ing in magic.

“The trick is not the point of magic for me,” says Maxwell. “It’s the means to re­store a sense of won­der and awe to peo­ple in a world where those things have been lost. I help peo­ple get their minds off their prob­lems and the ‘facts’ they’re con­stantly col­lect­ing on­line and show them some­thing they don’t un­der­stand and can won­der about and talk to each other about. I want to in­still a sense of as­ton­ish­ment in them that in­spires them with pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

One of Maxwell’s most touch­ing ex­pe­ri­ences was when he was per­form­ing at a restau­rant one evening. He saw a young woman and her fa­ther sit­ting at a ta­ble and the woman was cry­ing. He felt com­pelled to ap­proach them. “Do you want to see a card trick?” he asked the daugh­ter. Her dad said yes.

Maxwell did a trick that pro­duced a lit­tle flower and the woman started cry­ing harder, but later in the evening, her fa­ther came to Maxwell and said, “You’re the an­gel we prayed for. My daugh­ter told me she was plan­ning to take her own life and we prayed God would send some­one to help im­me­di­ately and he sent you.”

“I don’t push God on peo­ple,” says Maxwell, “but I’m al­ways ready to tell them why I’m here. My work is not about me — it’s about mak­ing mo­ments for peo­ple that im­prove or change their lives.”

An­other fa­vorite out­come for Maxwell when he’s per­form­ing at a restau­rant is get­ting par­ents off their phones and pay­ing at­ten­tion to their kids. “If you go to a ta­ble and start do­ing a card trick or a coin trick for kids, their par­ents are prob­a­bly go­ing to look up from their phones and get caught up in it, too, and then there will be a con­nec­tion — par­ents and chil­dren shar­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether that they’ll want to talk about later.”

Maxwell says he gets in­vi­ta­tions to per­form around the world, but he wants to re­main lo­cal un­til his two sons, ages 11 and 14, are grown. “They like magic,” he says, “but right now they both want to join the Marines.”

Maxwell per­forms at sev­eral lo­cal restau­rants on a reg­u­lar ba­sis dur­ing the week and at univer­si­ties and col­leges on week­ends and also does work as a con­sul­tant for other ma­gi­cians and il­lu­sion­ists. He of­ten per­forms at schools, as he did re­cently at Lake­view Mid­dle School, and talks to stu­dents about sub­stance abuse and bul­ly­ing. One of his long-term dreams is to have a theater of his own.

To learn more about Maxwell’s work, visit face­book.com/ Sleeve­lessil­lu­sion­ist.

/ Con­trib­uted

Il­lu­sion­ist and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Jaden Maxwell lives in Ring­gold and has per­formed in all but four U.S. states and in Mex­ico.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.