I have been doing magic for as long as I can remember. I started performing magic at the age of 8. My sister bought me a magic kit that year for Christmas, and I was hooked. Entertaining people has been something I have enjoyed my whole life. Bringing joy to others is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I have found that the REAL MAGIC in life stems from serving other people. Giving service is something that has literally saved my life. And... this is my story
Shortly after I was married in 1996, I disappeared off stage one night in Las Vegas courtesy of David Copperfield. I remember visiting with him after and thinking up all of these elaborate ways to make people disappear off stage. That was a fun night. It was that night that I decided I wanted to apply my skills as a magician to my work.
Fast Forward to 2007. I owned my own fire safety company and I had just had my best year in business. I had built my dream home in my hometown and bought my dream car. I had 3 amazing children and a good wife. I felt like I was living my dreams. I was speaking and doing magic all over the world. I was inviting others to live their dreams as well. I was active in the community and in my church. It really appeared like I had it "figured out," and that I had achieved success in business as well as in life.
At the end of 2007 I was invited to speak at a professional conference. I was to be one of the keynote speakers. After reading my bio, the gentleman introducing me made a statement that he inserted himself. He said.... "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE THAT I HAVE EVER MET, Mr. Zane Gray." The statement in bold was NOT in my bio. Keep in mind that I had literally met this man 5 minutes before I went on stage. For whatever reason, that statement bothered me. I couldn't get it out of my head. I walked on stage to a huge ovation and all I could think about was that phrase. "Why did that man say that?" I made it through the magic show and talk just fine, but to this day I don't remember much of what I said. I DO REMEMBER thinking to myself.... "that man has no idea what kind of husband I am to my wife, or what kind of father I am to my kids." He thought that I was successful because of the car I drove and the house I lived in. What he didn't understand was that my priorities were completely out of balance. I appeared to be successful on the outside, but on the inside I was failing miserably. I was a wreck. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, and I was not present as a father or husband. I was driven to be the best in my business, and ultimately it caused me to lose everything.
Within three years of that conference I was arrested and pled guilty to 5 felonies. I was divorced. I was excommunicated from my church. I was humiliated, disgraced, and had completely given in to depression. I struggled to get out of bed each day. Most of my so-called friends wouldn't speak to me as soon as I was arrested. I felt like I had no reason to live. I was incarcerated for a year. During the first few months of incarceration I wondered if this world would be a better place without me. I dreaded looking in the mirror each morning. I struggled mightily with depression and feelings of self-worth were hard to come by. I had been attacked while in jail and I was fearful to go to sleep each night. I lost 40 pounds in 30 days. I didn't know what to do. It was in these tough moments that giving service to others was the only thing that gave me a reason to smile. It was giving service to other inmates and guards that ultimately helped me overcome my depression and gave me a reason to look forward to another day. And.... giving that service may have helped me to stay safe in one of the worst places on earth. I believe that I was protected from harm because I gave to others expecting nothing in return. Writing these experiences down, and remembering what I was able to accomplish, even while I was behind bars, has helped me stay positive and on the right path.
When I was released from jail I had $12.00 to my name. No home, no car, no job and opportunities seemed slim. My parents let me borrow their vehicle. I started to work again, and I started doing magic again. I started volunteering to perform at rehab facilities and at schools. I started doing corporate events again and telling my story. After being divorced for 3 1/2 years, I finally decided to start dating. In 2013 I got married! While my life isn't perfect and I still struggle with things daily, I am on the right track. I am working as hard as I can. I have four amazing children and four more amazing step-children. I have an amaz wife, and a great ex-wife. Now how many people can say that? With all that I have been through, I have learned that the true magic in life is giving service to others. Serving people as much as possible, and unmasking the self-deception that we all have in our lives. I hope that you will take the 30 day challenge and commit to change your life. That is how I came to change myself and ultimately it is the thing that will help bring us all happiness.