Think of Harry Houdini in a straitjacket suspended over a busy city street, or think of him clawing at his throat in a Chinese Water Torture Cell. He wanted to be an actor, you know, and all of those performances he perfected were only ever meant to be a stepping-stone to the silver screen. Did he call it failure— having spent more time wrapped up in chains than in the arms of a leading lady? Or did he realize that, like all of us, he found a way to become the story he told himself? Houdini claimed he could withstand any blow, and night after night men lined up to take their shots— it could hardly be called a trick. He was buried alive three times, but it was a jab from a seventeen-year-old kid that killed him. I’m asking you to think of his ruptured appendix, his organ leaking blood like milk from a cracked glass. Tonight, I hope you have someone you love, but I hope that person is on a business trip to North Dakota or the moon or at least picking up bread from the grocery store. For now, it’s just you and me and we don’t have to whisper these questions. How many blows can we take? How many sacrifices can we make? And if what we want is this bubble of escape—a few soundless minutes underwater to savor our thoughts, our loved ones stuck in traffic—how long before we perform those desperate, death-defying tricks? How long until we become what we’ve always wanted to be?