(Il)Logical Progression

Random Musings by the Truly Random

Digging Up the Past to Change the Present

Set the wayback machine to 1994, Sherman!

Once upon a time, there was a new game on the market called Magic: the Gathering.  It was new.  It was fresh.  It was different.  It was fun.  It was something I was told “Don’t do it!  Your wallet will thank you,” by friends who did play the game.  It was one of the first, and best accepted game in a new game type – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) – a game where you collected cards (in packs like baseball cards) and tried to build decks out of the cards to play against other players.  It was sold out everywhere.

And then one night in 1994 in Sacramento, I sat down and played the game with some friends using their cards.  We sucked.  We had a blast.  I was hooked.  It was still sold out.

Then, late that year, or maybe early the next year, they released a Revised version of the game, and it became accessible.  And I was still hooked.

Fast forward a few years.  2001.  I’d played the game for a few years, but nothing serious.  I built 100-card monstrosities that I thought were good decks.  But now, I was down in Los Angeles, and it turns out, cards were more readily available here.  More people played.  There were tournaments now, for prizes and cash.  Who’d have thunk it?

Now, what does this have to do with anything?

Well, around that time around 2000-2001, something was coming into being that would affect the game forever.  People on the internet began to write about the game.  People who were regularly winning tournaments started talking strategy.  Websites based around these articles were created, and regular columns helped players learn and become better.  The tournament scene soared with new players – players versed in Magic theory and playing at a level I didn’t even know existed.

And I began reading some of these articles.  Some were junk.  Some were boring.  Some were highly analytical.  Some were entertaining.  Some helped my game.  Some went right over my head.

But I read and took in a lot of new ideas, and my game changed.  Those 100-card decks were complete junk.  I could make well-tuned 60-card decks that ran circles around the old stuff.  I played in tournaments and played regularly with friends.

So I hear you ask again, what does this have to do with anything?

During that time, I found an author whose work I enjoyed tremendously, and whose contribution to the game, while a bit more layman than much of the stuff out there, introduced more real-world ideas into the psychology of the game.

Now, in 2012, I find myself reading those articles again – remembering the past and how they helped my game – but thinking about the ideas outside of the game.

And… onward to the point of all this.


– Bringing out the Dead, by John F. Rizzo

Read it.  Yes, it has a lot to do with the aforementioned Magic game, but then again, it doesn’t – and that’s the part that really has me thinking.

We all do things in this world that are primarily for our own enjoyment.  These things are called hobbies.  It’s interesting, though, to see how these hobbies, which we do for ourselves, can be scrutinized by others, who will draw conclusions about you based on the hobbies you do.

For example – the hobby Dungeons and Dragons evokes a certain image of the person playing it.  That person is probably somewhat introverted, probably nerdy and socially awkward, not in great shape, but possibly smart in that geeky sort of way.  Maybe they have a costume in the closet, attend Ren Faires, and maybe are a little too ‘in character’ when they play.

And you might not be wrong.  Magic itself isn’t too far removed from D&D, and there used to be a need to ‘hide’ the hobby, to avoid criticism like Rizzo mentions in his article.  “That game is for geeks and nerds.”

Now, in 2012, the game is more mainstream.  All sorts of people play, and it has less of the stigma that it seemed to carry before.  Like Poker, it’s been popular enough to get television time (ESPN2, I believe it was).  There are players good enough to make decent money at it.  There are ‘sponsored’ teams, worldwide tournaments, and players all over the world.

And the people playing collectively have spent years refining the game, and it’s nothing like what it used to be.

But the point of all this isn’t the game.  It’s finding something that you do because it’s a part of you.  Passion, Rizzo calls it – the state of being alive.  Not being dead.  Being proud to do what you do.  Not hiding.  Realizing that you can and should do some things for yourself, and only yourself.

And this comes back to me in 2012, not for Magic – which I still play off-and-on – but for life in general, because I’ve come to realize that passion is not an easy thing to have.  I have ‘died’ over the years, so to speak, and I can see it clearly.

I’m a superfically passionate person.  I can get into just about anything.  I have many, many ‘hobbies’, which I’ve felt I’m passionate about, but in truth, it’s very superficial, and my recent rediscovering of this article has opened my eyes wide to it.  I collect hobbies more than I do hobbies.  I can muster up passion when I look at hobbies – I can get excited when other people tell me about their hobbies.

But I’m not passionate in the way that Rizzo would call alive.  Really, in the whole Alive/Dead spectrum that he uses to describe people’s passion toward their hobbies, I’m a vampire.  I find myself listening to others, and taking in their excitement, and I can return the same enthusiasm about things I consider to be my hobbies, but when it comes down to actually devoting time to them, I don’t really come alive.

It’s an interesting feeling, ‘living’ off the vibes of others – and I see that’s what I’m doing now – and I really don’t think it’s what I want anymore.  It’s time to change that part of me.  I need to stop thinking of doing, and start doing.  I want to be able to define myself based on what I do because I want to, not based on what I do because I must.

Which brings me to my second idea in all this.  If I want to make this change, I need to conquer my ‘Bruce’.


Stuck in the Middle with Bruce, by John F. Rizzo

Read it.  Yes, it has a lot to do with the aforementioned Magic game, but then again, it doesn’t – and that’s the part that really has me thinking.

Self-fulfilling prophecy.  Setting yourself up for failure.  Not listening to that voice of reason in your head, even though you know it’s right.

My life has been full of that.  Doing what I know isn’t the smart move, because I think that I can change the outcome, even if I really know I can’t.  In my hobbies, that represents the grand ideas and high standards I set for myself when I try to do the hobbies, which leads to enough discouragement for me to switch to a different hobby and drop the previous one for a while.

With Magic, it was psyching myself out of matches, simply because I thought my opponents were better players than I was, and therefore I should lose.

With World of Warcraft, it was the idea that I could keep up with players in the top guilds on the server, but at the same time putting time into other activities, and not doing the things (practicing, research, gearing up) that was necessary to play at top level.

With my models and miniatures, it’s coming up with elaborate ideas for the crafts, ideas far beyond my current ability, or the desire to paint like the pros with experience I have, just because I’ve read the theory behind the craft, thoroughly.

With video games, it’s thinking that I must complete the game at 100% completion rate, and that anything less than that isn’t good, and giving up at the first mistake.

With my writing, it’s comparing my writing with published authors’ writings, and focusing on simply what doesn’t seem to work, without looking at what might be good.  (Also, it’s fear of criticism – which keeps me from actually putting pen to paper much of the time, which is as much Bruce as the high expectations are.)

And with my life, it’s falling off the wagon (whether it’s about getting healthy, cleaning up, or improving things in my life) at the first sign that things aren’t going as smoothly as planned.

It’s a constant battle, and one that I’ve been losing up to this point.  But admitting there is an issue is the first step to fixing the problem, or so I’ve been told.


So, for 2012, the year I say “Bring it on, I can take it!”, Bruce is my demon, and this is the year I exorcise my demons.

It’s going to take patience.  It’s going to take dedication.  It’s going to take igniting some passion for those things I’ve said to myself in the past “I want to do that!”, and putting in the time and effort to reach that point.  Life should be about the journey, not the destination, and I firmly believe that being passionate gives us the energy and the desire to stay the course.

I wonder what passion feels like?

Do you have it?

My 2 yen,


January 13, 2012 - Posted by | General Musings | , ,

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