As an expert in literally “escaping” from difficult situations, Jason Gardner has a passion for helping others to metaphorically “escape” from problems as well. Gardner is both an escape artist and a life coach, enjoying entertaining audiences in his high stakes shows, as well as helping his clients make their dreams reality.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Jason Gardner. I’m 45 years old. I’ve been living in Boston for over 25 years, originally from New York right outside of the city. I came to Boston in 1989 to go to Berklee College of Music studying drums, playing jazz. I played professionally throughout the 90s at the time, also rekindling my love of magic. When I was a kid I used to do magic and music so I never let those two go.
On tour with bands there’s a lot of traveling. I started doing magic again and that led to doing college gigs with magic, but I always had the escapes as well, as an escape artist, and then created Jason Escape, which is a character or a persona. Then did that in the late 90s, over the 2000s and then started professionally doing gigs as an escape artist, doing some magic gigs and then slowing down on the music, doing less and less music gigs and I played drums professionally.
I’m married. I have two children. I have a three and ½ year old and a nine month old. Two boys who live in Boston. And also I make a portion of my living as a life coach. What that means is that I’m a dream maker. I take people and I ask them what their dreams are, what’s holding them back from making these dreams a reality, and then working with them to create their reality, their new reality and it’s a great job. I’ve been doing more and more of that.
I do one-on-one sessions with clients, mostly over the phone. I have clients all over the world, and I started doing workshops as well. My workshop this year is on intuition and how to use intuition and what it is and how to strengthen the intuitive muscle. I’ll also be working on this year combining my escape and my coaching together to create some kind of experiential program, kind of a motivation journey using the escaping as a metaphor.
Tell us about your childhood
I grew up in Bayside Queens and when I was 10 years-old I moved to Long Island and my parents were divorced around that time. I was always a really creative person. I could spend hours alone playing with music, music was basically the thing I would do then, but just creating stuff. I was always really into introspective. I was a loner throughout high school. I had a lot of friends, but was never part of a clique. I always seemed to be outside of all different kinds of groups. I was friends with everybody. I was always a happy kid, a friendly kid. I played music in high school. I had a great relationship with both my parents and older sister.
Who has most influenced your life and why?
Obviously my wife comes to mind first and foremost. Everything I do has a filter, it’s like how will this affect my wife and how will this affect my family? And what can I do to have a better relationship with my wife and with my family? So I always feel motivated by her. I feel like she helps me to create my decisions and create movements in my life. My wife would be the number one source.
What is the one thing you’re most passionate about?
The one thing I’m most passionate about is growing, is continuing to expand my awareness and my love and my spirituality; those are the most important aspects of life. It’s not the stuff that I have, but it’s the experiences that I have. It’s the things that I do in my life that are most important to me.
What drives that passion?
I’ve always been really simplistic; I’m a minimalist by nature. I think what drives my passion foremost is the fact that we’re just not alone here in this universe. There are different realities that we go in and out of. There’s a bigger picture than just ourselves, if you want to call it God or a source or universe. Knowing that there’s something greater than me really helps to kind of pull me along. It helps to know that there’s always something bigger and more fulfilling that I can drive myself towards. Knowing that there’s this larger, higher power keeps me going.
Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in the past:
I hang upside down in a straight jacket for a living, it’s one of the things I do and every once in a while I’ll get stuck; it happens. The first time that it happened I was tied up and I got all tangled up I was trying and I was doing my best to get out, but I wasn’t able to do it.
I spent way too much time upside down and I was feeling a lot of pain because I really hadn’t rehearsed what to do if I get stuck. I should have, but didn’t. And at that point I had to just kind of be present with myself and let go of outcomes. What happened was someone in the audience came out, and this was actually on the street so there was a bunch of people surrounding me, a couple hundred at least.
Someone came out and said this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to tip the tripod over and we’ll hold you and we’ll get you down. Everything worked out fine. I was able to get down. I was safe. No one got hurt. It was really interesting because I had to let go of the outcome because I didn’t know how things would turn out and by letting go of the outcome it allowed the universe to give me some information.
And the information came in the form of this gentlemen who walked up and said here this is what you’ve got to do. So just by letting go of the struggle and not fighting, fighting, fighting back, but just letting go and knowing that I am stuck and just letting that be for a moment to allow something else to come in is the cool thing and that’s what happened. And I got out and now I know how to get out. If it happens again I know how to deal with that problem. Just like when you’re held back in life and there’s a struggle, you learn from your mistakes and hopefully we’re smart enough to use that knowledge next time that scenario shows up.
Tell us the coolest thing about your life:
I have two very cool jobs and one job is easier to explain than the other. Being an escape artist, I get to amaze people. I give them a great experience by getting tied up and getting myself in a risky situation and getting out and people love that. As a coach it’s a little more challenging to describe. I’m a dream maker. I take the things that are holding you back, your own straight jacket, whatever that is, it’s the metaphor, it’s really about fear and false beliefs. And whatever it is in your life that is holding you back from really going deeper into your dreams and your goals.
And I get to basically take people and walk them and hold that space for them over a certain period of time and I’ve had clients who have found their dream jobs, that have figured out what they wanted to do with their life, have found their purpose, have figured out what in their life has value for them and how to really align themselves with what has value for them.
So I get to see people achieve their dreams and their goals and escape what’s holding them back and also take risks. I’m a professional risk taker so I know how to do that. I get to work with clients on taking risks, taking that step, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Knowing what that is then going forward and doing it. I feel very fortunate. I get to work on the outer escape for myself and the inner escape for others; it’s fun.
Watch the full interview here: