Robert Chesley

Perspective: Magic and Life

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I’ve wanted to write something like this for a long long time. I always loved when the writer analogues real life issues to Magic and this is my first attempt at doing so.

Magic is lot like having a girlfriend. Sometimes you fight and make up and come out better or worse because of it. I thought it would be a great idea to take what I’ve learned from some of my past relationship failures and how I’ve applied those lessons to how approach the game.

I’ll be honest. I haven’t had that much in my personal relationships that have boded well for me the past ten or twelve years or so. I can’t say that my Magic playing has fared much better. But I have learned some things through my misadventures in love. I’m not going to use any real names, but all of the following happened and it is a very introspective look into my life. I understand that not everyone will appreciate or want to read something like this and for that I appologize. I’m doing this as therapy and as a way of taking back my life. I’m also including some songs that I feel describe how I feel about each of these periods of my life. I hope you enjoy them.

I’ll never forget the beginning of the new century. It was a weird time for me. I was just starting high school in 99. I grew up in a really fascinating time to be alive. The internet was finally taking off, and while my household had it for quite some time, it was finally becoming apparent that this was the wave of the future in ’99. I met my first serious girlfriend through a computer. We were young and really compatible because of the types of music we listened to, which to be fair is how you met a lot of new people in those days online or off. We were friends for quite sometime and we started “cyber dating” just before the start of the school year. I remember all those days we would stay up way past what we probably should have just talking on the internet listening to New Found Glory records. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I belonged to something. That is something that is very strange when you first feel that. We “dated” all through high school. She was a great friend to me and helped me through a lot of my bad times. We eventually escalated our relationship to talking on the phone nearly nightly. I remember fondly the day that Less Than Jake’s “Borders and Boundries” came out and we both bought it on the day of it’s release. We stayed up on the phone listening to the record and sharing that moment with each other. I can’t listen to “Magnetic North” without remembering all those times I had with this particular girl. Things didn’t work out towards the end of our high school career she ended up falling for someone who was a lot closer than I was. This put things into perspective for me. Like most high school girlfriends, particularly ones who live so far away, it was doomed from the very beginning. It was obviously a special time in my life and one that I hope I will never forget.

How does this pertain to Magic? Sometimes old strategies won’t work. Every time there is a new set or a new rotation your old decks may not be as good as they were previously. A lot of times when we were just learning the game and trying to figure everything out. Sometimes you just need to go back and adapt your old plan and morph it into something that can be used to fight future battles. Your deck should go through a transformation from one thing to another. If you can look past your own biases and look to play the best deck you’ll play better Magic and grow as a player faster.

My early time in college was kind of awkward. I graduated early from High school and really having only dated a very few number of girls I had no idea how to approach women, let alone ask them out. I remember one girl I went to school with she remembered me from high school. We both had graduated early so when we signed up for classes at college we were put in several of the same classes. We sat next together like we did in some of our high school science classes. I had no idea how to approach her. I knew she had a boyfriend and that things were alright as far as I knew. One day we were talking about the new Pirates movie and I was gushing about how much I loved that film (I still love the first Pirates of the Carrabean movie, it is one of my all time favorite films, bite me.) I casually mentioned that she shouldn’t go see this movie by herself and asked her out on our first date later that night in fact. We both enjoyed ourselves we ended up talking in the movie theater parking lot until all hours of the night. My issue with her was I never spoke up. We hung out a few times after that but I never spoke of my true feelings until it was far too late for me. It also reminds me of another girl I met in high school acting class. We were rehearsing a scene for class and it required us to be married and I was to be taken off to jail, we were supposed to embrace and have a tender moment, but the fact of the matter was I never kissed a girl before. The director was describing the scene to everyone and we were supposed to have “not seen each othe for a long time” and how would we react to not seeing a loved one for so long? Obviously, I’m way too proud to speak up about something like that, I think honestly, she never really kissed a guy before either. I’ll never forget how it felt to sell a kiss like that to an entire group of people. It was safe to say that we nailed that scene. Unfortunately, things too did not work out as I never did speak up my true feelings for her until it was too late, and I never saw her again. Are you sensing a pattern? My next forte into attempting to date for a serious relationship came a little while later. The next girl I tried to go out with was one of my best friends from high school. She was a fellow actor as well and I thought I would be really sweet and offer to take her out to her favorite musical of all time. I remember buying the tickets and it was one of the biggest purchases I’ve ever made for a date, at least up until that point. We go out and she tries to pay for the ticket and I obviously didn’t let her. I thought we were more than we actually were and I should have known to just keep it in the “friends” zone, she’s still a friend of mine today but I never heard the end of it from some of my fellow acting apprentices.

How does this pertain to Magic? Well, sometimes no matter how persistent you are it doesn’t really make a difference. Sometimes you got to try different styles before you can make something work for you. You got to remember there are many different kinds of Magic and Magic means different things to different people. Sometimes I’m a really hardcore Commander player and even other times I try my hand at competitive Legacy and even still, sometimes I just like to build fun casual decks just to see how they work against everyone elses’. You got to take chances and take risks if you want to succeed and you have to realize that sometimes even trying your best and even attempting will cause you to fail. You can’t let any of that bother you or get you down.

The next two girls I was involved with have a funny story attached to them. I met the next girl I wanted to date in science class. I remember it was a night class and we knew each other vaguely from high school. She was the first girl that I met that was as into Star Wars and punk rock as I was. I remember we were talking on the phone one night and after getting words of encouragement from all my friends I was finally going ask her out. It turns out just as I was going to ask her out she mentioned about how she had a boyfriend started talking about him. I can’t imagine being as crushed as I felt in that moment at that particular time. We remained good friends at least through class. She eventually broke up with her boyfriend and we had a few dates. One in particular involved driving out of town and going to the mall and we bought a Hentai. I don’t know if there was ever an awkward moment in my entire dating career it was watching a Hentai in your bedroom with a girl you’ve been into for a long, long time and not acting on any of it. The Hentai was ridiculous, it involved fairies, mascot suits, and dinosaurs. Apparently, this guy couldn’t get laid so some magic angel grants him the ability to “score” with anyone that he wants but he can only use the ability five or six times. The plot was rather ridiculous. Anyways, much like my previous college relationships, I never acted upon my feelings and we eventually drifted apart. We reconnected a few times later and one time I was actually invited to stay the night at her house (yeah, I know, I’m really scared and nerdy) It was around the same time I met the girl whom I shared a rather significant portion of my life with. I can remember the day that I met her. I went to Warped Tour 2004, it should be noted that a lot of my favorite bands played that year. I remember seeing a lot of bands that day, including American Hi-fi, NoFX, Alkaline Trio, and Bad Religion, which I got a guitar pick from the band. Anyways, the day was winding down and it had started raining and we started heading back towards the car and to my surprise it had been busted into. They really didn’t steal anything of rather significance the crappy CD player I had in my car, busted some windows, jimmied the door. I remember getting home that my life could not get any worse than it was at that particular moment. I went to bed and woke up the next morning went to work and when I got home, I did what I usually did at that time and hop onto a chat room and that was when I met her. Little did I know that it would be the most meaningful relationship that I would ever start. Over the course of the next six years we moved in together, we got five cats, and we shared a lot of great times. Much like everything else in my life, it too waned to the point of where we broke up. Even though it was probably mostly my fault for letting it happen, it still stings and you never really get over it.

How does this pertain to Magic? Sometimes you make investments for the future. Sometimes you pick up cards or see situations now that will pay dividends sometime in the future. I can’t tell you how many seemingly innocent pick ups I’ve made have turned out to be great investments down the road. Here is a good rule of thumb, even in the face of adversity there is always a chance that it can save and change your life. I’ve made great investments based off of picking up good cards when people think they are bad or “don’t have a home” well usually those cards find homes. The best example of this recently is the sudden rise to prominence of Tempered Steel. The card was filling up the bulk bin a few months ago and now is the defining card of Standard.

My final story in this opus that is my personal life is that of one of the best girlfriends I had ever had. I have a history of dating people who don’t necessarily fits in my style. I’m really interested in girls that are geeks and strong willed and unfortunately that has come around to bite me more than it has helped me, but hey, I can’t help who I’m attracted to. This one I thought was different. I met her shortly after my last relationship fizzled and I never thought I could find someone so much like myself. We agree politically, we agreed for the most part about a lot of subjects. We shared many of the same interests. So what happened? Well, I can’t say for sure. I tried and tried to correct the problems that I experienced in the past but sometimes you just can’t overcome that. And even if you are trying your hardest sometimes it can still slip through the cracks. I too shared some great times with her as well. There are plenty of reasons for me to be happy that these relationships existed and I do. They say “All Good Things Come To An End” and I have to agree, if they didn’t end then how can we feel pain and find meaning in our daily lives? I’ll never forget the words of encouragement and sense of empowerment she gave me to go out and try to succeed at what I want to do in this life. And that is the greatest gift that anyone can give you. And sometimes you just have to understand that it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, and that it takes more than one person to try in a relationship and when one stops trying there is no point to going on after that.

How does this pertain to Magic? Well, sometimes you’re going to get bad draws and face decks that are just going to beat you. You can play marvelously and play as flawlessly as possible it still won’t matter if you can’t overcome yourself first. I can’t tell you how many games where I was just over prepared and over looked something or let someone else’s deck take me out of my own game. I’ve lost a lot of matches that way.

Well, that’s all I have to say. I hope you enjoyed this look into my personal life as well as my Magic life. Until next time.

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