UNION — Magician and motivational speaker Tom Coverly has a love-hate relationship with illusions. Coverly loves how illusions draw the rapt attention of his audiences during presentations at schools all around the nation. What he hates to see are people who hurt others because of their mistaken belief in illusions and lies.

“Don’t live lies and illusions — live truth and reality,” Coverly told students during his Destroy Illusions school assembly tour at Union High School Tuesday morning.

Coverly, who is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, captured the attention of his audience quickly Tuesday with a pair of baffling tricks. He made a coin appear in an unopened soft drink can and appeared to read text from a book whose pages turned out to be blank.

He told his audience that none of what they thought they saw actually occurred.

“It is just sleight of hand,” Coverly said.

The motivational speaker said this before urging people not to be fooled by the
illusions and lies ingrained in the fabric of our society. He first addressed the girls in his audience, while holding up a magazine featuring a model on its cover.

He said girls feel bad about themselves because they do not look like the women on the covers of magazines like the one he held. The reality, he said, is they are chasing unattainable perfection.

“Nobody looks like this, not even the women on the cover of the magazines,” Coverly said.

He said images like the one on the cover are the result of thousands of photos taken and extensive computer work.

He noted that even fashion models can not live up to their own cover shots. To illustrate his point, Coverly made reference to something model Cindy Crawford once said to him.

“She told me, ‘I wish I could look like the Cindy Crawford everybody knows and loves,’” he said.

Coverly then encouraged the young women in his audience to embrace themselves for who they are.

“You are beautiful perfectly the way you are. Don’t change for anyone,” Coverly said. “Girls, this (magazine cover girl) isn’t perfection.”

Coverly urged the young men in the audience not to believe the illusion that it is acceptable to use sexual innuendo when talking about girls.

He advised the young men to step up when the people they are with speak in disrespectful terms about women.

“Be the kind of guy who shuts it down,” Coverly said.

Coverly next encouraged everyone to reject the illusion that it is acceptable to talk back to your parents. He said young people need to be more accepting of their parents and understand they have shortcomings.

“The truth is that your mother and father are not perfect. They make mistakes. Here is another truth: you are not perfect either,” Coverly said.

He said children should understand that parents are learning as they go.

He said all parents are new in the sense that even though they may have older sons and daughters, they are raising that particular son or daughter for the first time. For example, if you are their third oldest child, you are the only such child they have parented.

He urged the students to never miss an opportunity to tell their parents how much they love them. Coverly told the story of someone who got into a heated argument with his mom and screamed that he hated her.

The mother responded by saying “I love you” before driving away.

A short time later, the boy desperately wanted to make amends and tell his mom that he loved her. He never got the chance, for his mom died in a motor vehicle accident while driving home.

Toward the end of his talk, Coverly suggested that everyone should let go of grudges.

“Life is way too short to hold grudges and be unforgiving,” he said.

He exhorted people to forgive those they are upset with as soon as possible.

“Let those people know today, because tomorrow is not guaranteed for them (or) for you,” he said.

He then told a story about someone he knows who made a moving written apology to a classmate he had bullied.

“I know that the words ‘I’m sorry’ are not good enough. But I want you to know that I have your back the rest of my life if you ever need anything,” Coverly quoted the letter.

Coverly said that the student who had been bullied later told his former classmate that when he thinks of him now, he recalls not the bad things he did, but his uncommon gesture of support.

Coverly spoke to an audience of about 250 Tuesday in Union High School’s gym. Union School District students in grades 5-12 and Cove High School students in grades 9-12 were in attendance.

Coverly concluded his talk by asking students to always be true to their word, an anchor in today’s often illusionary world.

“Your word is your integrity. Nobody can take that from you,” he said.