A man jaded after the loss of his wife struggles to provide for himself and his young neglected son. He intoxicates himself by drinking to drown his sorrows, but is reminded eventually, of his past performance skills. His skills are arguably not magical in nature. Think fire-conjuring, fire-eating, glass-walking, sword-bending and such. He encounters a sadistic gangster, who tempts him to perform more extremely, even by enduring a beating and electrocution in chains. It is worse than extreme asceticism in much less time.
But at no point does he call it quits. It turns out that he knew he was dying, and was in a race against time to make up to his son, by making as much money as he could for him. The audience might see him between being heroic and foolish. We hope he bears the pain superhumanly, yet we remember he is only human. We hope to see a genuine magic trick, like that of an escape artist perhaps. But it does not happen. At least he survives, and does earn more than expected.
We then realise that his true magic is down-to-earth love and sacrifice, expressed in the only way he knew he could. Yet, his qualities were not as ‘magical’ as that of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. It is already challenging to sacrifice for one person, what more selflessly for all sentient beings… endlessly. The true challenge is to stretch our love to be for all beings, to be able to endure without enduring, never fretting pain and suffering. Not that we should be masochistic, but for the true ‘magic’ to happen, we must brace ourselves with ever stronger Bodhicitta.