Off Topic: Balancing Relationships and Magic

Finding a balance between our two greats loves can be difficult. Magic players grow older, get jobs, find that special someone, and have to make those hard decisions in life: go play Magic which could potentially anger the spouse or keep the spouse happy and miss out on getting to play Magic. Choices. Choices. A young man would think there is a decision to be made. I'm here to say you don't have choice.

Essence of Life

One day I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and listened to a conversation about essence. The conversation was about the psychologist's pet subject. Essence entails a nonmaterial quality as defined by the doctor of philosophy. Not verbatim, it is the gap between a person's subjective value of an object/event versus the actual value. How much is a basketball worth? The actual retail price is twenty dollars. What if I told you the basketball was Michael Jordan's first B-ball. How much is it worth now? Suddenly the basketball is worth significantly, no? This phenomenon is what he termed as essence. Disregarding supply and demand, essence would be the reason Alpha Magic cards are extremely expensive. The majority of the subject matter was about material possessions. The radio program peaked my interest once the thought was briefly mentioned that the subject matter could be applied to psychology and sociology.

Essence does not just apply to physical objects. Associating essence with material objects is the easier of concepts to understand. Events have essence. Woodstock anyone? Let's look at something that lacks essence. Watching a television show has little essence compared to going to the movies. Take a favorite television episode. Do you remember the where, when, and who you watched it with? No. Now, take a favorite movie. I don't care. It can be Star Wars if you want. Ask yourself the same questions. My inclination is more of those questions were answered. I'm not knocking television. It just has less essence. Movies entail an event with maybe somebody attractive, a special day, buttered popcorn, and a five-hour wait in line for the premiere. Television is watched on the same couch, on an ordinary day, after a regular meal, and in normal clothes.


Are you following?

If not, go back and reread it otherwise the rest of this won't make any sense.


Previous to this article being written, I scoured the internet for subject matter on a philosophical interest of mine. I couldn't find any. (If anyone finds anything, please point me in the right direction.) It isn't to say I am being original. The same idea was touched upon in a scene from the movie I, Robot. The clip shows robots huddling together in a cargo container. There was no reason for them to stand together. I call it presence. The essence of presence is simply being physically there. For those psych and social scientist out there, I am not talking about social facilitation. I relate presence more akin to the wire monkey versus the terrycloth experiment done by Harry Harlow. The scientist showed the importance of bodily contact. The baby monkey preferred the cloth monkey, by the way. I find the physical presence of people to be an important aspect in the same way bodily contact can be for people and, well, monkeys. The observation can be seen in the most independent of animals: cats. Whenever I am in a room typing away at the keyboard, I can usually find one of my cats in the room. My previous cat Kid could always be found somewhere in the man cave. If I changed rooms, so did the cat. Physical contact is not necessary. The fur balls just want to be in the same room as me.

People exhibit the same behavior. A difference exists between a concert with thousands of fans versus one fan. The concert is more fun with more people. It is one of the reasons people leave their box-shaped houses and venture out into community. Relating this back to relationships, presence can play a big factor in keeping those connections healthy. The effect of presence can be evident when I want to play Magic on the information highway. I head to the man cave to log on and get interrupted by a jealous spouse. She wants to spend quality time and I want to play Magic. A fight ensues with me getting angry for making me choose and she gets mad for my disregard for quality time. Is there a choice to be made? The answer is no. It is because there isn't one to be made. To get past the scenario a person needs to stop thinking about it as simply black and white. Stepping out of the box, the predicament I set myself in was because of the situation I created. I'm not saying it is my fault, but I could have prevented situation. Call it risk management if you want. What should I have done? Heading to the man cave removed my presence and severed the mythical relationship connection. My online gaming would have better improved by taking my laptop with WiFi into the living room by her. Nothing has changed. I am still playing Magic, but no fight ensues. The difference is presence. My writing has taken the same tactic. When I write in the man cave, I get interrupted more frequently. The majority of my writing has since changed locations to a more permanent couch cushion. (Keep in mind, I am embellishing a little)

Once I wrote about how I texted my wife during an FNM. A reader gave me a little flack for being collared and leashed. Before I make man mistake number one of defending my ball and chain, the texting maintains my presence. The connection keeps my spouse happy. Happy spouses let me go play Magic. I suppose many of the young readers may not understand some of this. All I can say, you will one day. Don't worry, this article is just one of many times I have dished out some relationship advice. I've been married for ten years, and my wife and I were the first of our group of friends to get married. Ever since, I became some unofficial marriage guru something. I don't know why. However, the soon-to-be transpiring events became a common occurrence. Late into the night of the bachelor party, a stumbling groom would pull me off to the side. It seems he had a very important question. Well, for guys anyway. The first time I was pulled over for the "conversation" I didn't have the hindsight. Now, I can see it coming from a mile away. It starts with an awkward groom waiting for the opportune moment followed by the request. Usually uncomfortable silence follows as the doomed man looks for the proper words. Looking me in the eye, man to man, they would ask the married man if there was still passion after marriage.

Those poor fools. They never liked my answer. What were my inspiring words of wisdom? My mischievous side was tempted to shout very loudly for him to run like hell. In all seriousness, I would tell those grooms to be if the passion in the relationship died that it was his fault. Yeah, that would usually get a long stare followed by the big blink. Passion wilts away from the lack of flowers, dates, poems, and chocolates. It actually isn't about any of those things. It is about the essence behind those gifts. Let's go back to Michael Jordan's basketball. Say your spouse gave you a basketball. Wouldn't it be even better if it was Michael Jordan's basketball? A flower is a flower unless it has essence. Passion thrives on essence and presence.

Clueless Dogs

For the ladies reading, men are stupid. Yup, we are morons. I laugh when my female co-workers complain about their husbands being complicated. We're not. We are clueless dogs. We like to take naps, eat, play, be happy, don't like getting yelled at, and every once in a while like to be scratched behind the ears. That's it. We are clueless because we generally don't understand the whole essence thing. I joke with my co-workers to treat the male species like a dog and to train. Has anyone ever tried training a dog? It can be difficult. Throw a stick and the dog just tilts its head and gives a bewildered cute look. No sense yelling at the pooch. The dog just doesn't understand.

I suppose I am picking on my species a little bit too much. However, time and time again I am usually shaking my head at the guys. Oh, I've been people watching a long, long time. One of my favorite pastimes in college was going to parties and watching guys hitting on girls. My favorite is what I call the alpha dogs. Guy A starts talking to an attractive girl. Guy B sees this and goes over to compete cause guys are competitive. As soon as Guy B approaches, the bragging begins. It starts small. Guys A brags he drank a twelve pack, then Guy B brags he drank a twenty-four pack, Guy A drank a keg, Guy B drank two kegs then tossed them a quarter of a mile, etc. My favorite part is when the stooges finally realize the girl is gone. She got bored and left. Want to impress the girl, talk to her.

Restaurants are equally fun for me. More common than a person could imagine, guy and girl are on a date. Guy is talking about something the girl has absolutely no interest in. Girl smiles to be courteous. The pulling of the hair behind the ear is a dead give away. Coping strategy. The guy thinks she finds whatever thing he is talking about to be interesting. Therefore, he talks about it even more. Want to hear a multitude of countless other examples. Hmm... maybe I should stop before my species decides to lynch me. The problem is that guys often fail to see the essence of the matter. Take a scenario where a mom picks up a baby outfit and starts crying. As men, we just see a baby outfit and not the essence of the baby clothes.

Man to Man

Let me tell you the truth about getting to go play Magic. It isn't about making a choice. It isn't even about Magic. Ever get into a fight about going out every Friday night to play Magic? She says it is too often. Actually, it isn't even about the amount. The essence of the fight is about not putting her first. If you put your girl first and she knows it, you can go play Magic as often as you want. Putting spouse first makes spouse happy. Happy spouse lets you go play Magic. I'm not joking. The most common problem after people get married, the man starts hiding in his cave, stops showing his appreciation, and things just change. I suppose it is disclaimer time. Yes, the street goes both ways. Girls can be at fault just as much as men. However, I would say eight times out of ten, it's the guy. Sorry guys.

What's that? You want to know how to make your partner happy? I don't know. That's your job. Okay, okay, I'll help you guys out a little bit since I called you stupid and all. You're gonna get her a flower? Good, it's a start. Now, add essence. How? Do I have to do everything? Adding essence will be anything to make the material object of the flower more special. What are her favorite flowers, grandma's, mom's, scent, color, etc.? I guess I should have started with something simpler like poems. Printing a poem off the Internet doesn't have a lot of essence. Spending several hours and taking great care to make the poem meaningful is more important than it being good. The essence of romance is about thought, time and sacrifice. It is the thought that counts.

Situational Choices

I believe a lot of relationships get trapped in the box. The trap is similar to the creativity box. Couples get presented with a decision and the thought process quickly turns into a yes or no debate. Red or blue pill? I've learned over the years the more important aspect of decision-making is controlling the situation. Choices are hard to manipulate. A person can easily manipulate the situation. Staying on theme, take a marriage proposal. Asking the soon to be companion for a lifetime commitment is a choice. The time and place are the situation. I got my wife to say yes by proposing on the Eiffel Tower. Some would say I manipulated her. Maybe I did.

The reason I continue to flog this subject is the frame of mind around the world being black and white is persistent. Getting people to step outside the box and to see the world in grey is difficult. I recently had a conversation with some co-workers about a project I have been piloting. Basically, the project is implementing an inventory management system. Many of the co-workers complained how they had the same ideas. Some even mentioned it to management and got turned down. Why was I successful? I manipulated the situation. With time, patience, and the planting of seeds, I got the thumbs up to move forward with the project.

The previous material is important in the mental health field. One of the more frustrating parts of helping people is sending them home. At treatment facilities, most people want to quit or do quit. At home, the people are back in the same environment that facilitated the bad behavior. A powerful tool for people is realizing they have the capability of changing their situation. This can be changing jobs, friends, and location for a healthier environment. I find it peculiar how well people respond to this topic of situations. People hate making decisions. For some reason, people can grok/understand the power of being able to manipulate their situation. It gives them a sense of control.

Keep It Magical

Now stop reading and go make your partner happy. I want to see you out playing Magic.

Happy Holidays


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