A Reflection on My Community Involvement in PTCG

What a wild ride.  I thought I might be able to get away without making this post, but I think it’s better that I wrap everything and put a proverbial bow on the last few years.  Better for me in a mental sense.  Better for anyone who cares to be reading this in a what-to-look-for sense.  Better for future expectations.  My goal is to make this short, and there are better things to be done, but I want to write something before the true craziness of an academic year takes off.  In honesty, this probably should’ve been taken care of in something else I wrote, but in the interest of being explicitly clear, this exists.

I showed up to a League in August of 2010 with 5 Cyndaquil in a deck—oops.  Long road since then.  Some good times, and some bad.  The best of some people, the worst of others.  I could go on in that way all day.  I’ve been around for the entirety of the marketing-tool-to-product transition now, and it’s been remarkable to see every year a little different than the last, but it’s undeniable that it’s reached a better place.  The point of that intro, though, is that I’ve come a long way, and I want to talk a little bit about that—and a little bit about what I think it looks like next.

Naivety is a blessed part of being in an early stage in the game.  For some, it’s a boundless hope to be “the best” without any of the temperance that comes from experiencing failure.  For others, the infinite possibilities that a thousands-of-legal-cards canvas provides.  For me, since it’s never been remotely about being “best,” I think it was a trusting optimism in the faith of the actions of the people around me.  Sure, it took me years to get over the “there has to be a combination of cards that works in here somewhere!” syndrome, partially delayed by a time in Seniors where it was true, but I think my biggest transition over the years has been a loss of innocent belief that everyone was following the rules.  That’s a little cynical, but hey, you’re reading my history, so it’s the flavor of the moment.

Negativity aside: I can’t say enough good things about the game and the people I’ve met along the way.  The good and bad news is that my best friends over the last few years have lived in Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and a number of other places that were definitely-not-Michigan.  I definitely wouldn’t trade it.  On the flip side, there’s a certain danger in developing a comfort in “I’ll see my friends this weekend anyway” when you’re a highly-introverted, somewhat anxiously awkward individual who has that weekend crutch to lean on—especially yet when those weekends are exhausting and your school peer group is 2-3 years older than you.  The solution to not having energy for more people quickly becomes prioritizing the people you have the most in common with.  It’s genuinely great, but it does make it prohibitively difficult to walk away from the commonality.

The traveled road did me no favors in that regard, but in other ways, I’ve definitely grown immensely.  12 year old me would’ve run away so fast if you told him 18 year old me would be getting requests for selfies and autographs.  It hasn’t always been comfortable, and I’m sure I’ve accidentally left more than one person a bit miffed at my reception, but I like to think I’ve gotten way better at being in a spotlight. I don’t think anything will ever convince me to relish that position, and event weekends have never been more exhausting than the last year’s or so, but I can’t deny having grown immensely.  Thanks to everyone who accidentally contributed to that!!

But, that prominence in the community is most of what has me writing today.  In the process of becoming progressively less-uncomfortable with that prominence, it’s showed me a few things about myself.  For one, I’ve come to realize that I have a very hard time leaving a situation “open,” with loose ends.  The last year has been full of controversy (and almost never about anything I did myself), and I’ve taken some of it way too hard.  It wasn’t “mine,” but in an effort to clear even the most tangential tie of mine to whatever was underway, I took on too much.  For example: A certain prominent player was accused of stealing things.  That player wrote like 3 articles for 6P years ago.  I was not in a good place “dealing” with that, even though I personally had nothing to deal with.

Another example is the sexism article that stoked some controversy.  In that, I did have an undeniable hand: if I didn’t want it published, ultimately it probably wouldn’t have happened.  The controversy there hit me hard, too, because I so profoundly wanted others to understand my motives and thought processes.  I so badly wanted harmony in any number of situations this year that I was prone to over-invest in trying to make it equitable.

I want to do the right things, for the right reasons, and I want people to understand those reasons.  The fact that I’m profoundly aware that every action I take has consequences, most especially when in a position of public visibility, only compounds this dilemma for me.  Worse, I’m not remotely comfortable with the specter.  Every word we publish on 6P, one way or another, comes back to me, and while I can’t control everything that happens as a result of those words, there are absolutely situations where the actions caused by the words I speak (or the words I amplify) are on me.  As I’ve come into a more conscious realization of that, the mental balance has only gotten more complicated.

I don’t want to change that part of me, because I don’t know what I’d be without it.  On the same foot, I know that I can’t do another year of what just happened.  As much as I blamed the travel, my emotional investment in things entirely away from the table was undoubtedly a part of my fatigue, too.  As I’ve said, I don’t do anything halfway—at least, not with ease.  The consequence of the recognition I’ve garnered is feeling answerable to a lot of places, and I know that’s not healthy in the first place, let alone with my mentality around it.  Some of it is, perhaps, a bit self-inflicted: I am still highly anxious about the statement I made at Worlds regarding the deck error an opponent made, as I feel judged from all corners, but I think the only right answer was the one that cleared the person who couldn’t clear himself.  I surely don’t know what is right, and I don’t want to decide what is right for anyone, and I can only act from what I am guided to see as right.

Intuitively, I know that I cannot answer for everything to everyone, and am ultimately only answerable to one final authority in the end…but that hasn’t stopped me from trying.  To most of you, the spiritual side of where I could take this would only cloud what I need to say next, so I won’t.  The simple reality is that I know I can’t do what I’ve been doing, and while I think I’m capable of learning to deal with these situations in a healthier manner—or, need to do so as a matter of life—the reality is that I don’t think I can do that when dealing with them in the volume that the last year has offered.  In that vein, I’m stepping down from HeyFonte’s mod team today, and that is among a few other steps to be less invested.  I know that I can’t run from what I’ve created, but I also don’t really want to run: I want to engage in a healthier manner.

It strikes me that, throughout this, I could sound like the most self-righteous jerk ever conceived.  I can only rely, ironically, on the reputation I’ve built myself to dispel that conception.  This season, you’ll see me playing a bit, judging a bit, and planning SixPrizes a bit.  Or, more ideally, you’ll see me when I play, but hopefully not in that other thing.  Being invisible is the goal there :).

I think that I’ll probably never quit the game formally because I’ll never be able to bring myself to turn my back on what’s been so much of my life—certainly, the time to step away entirely isn’t now.  Frankly, if some of what’s happened hasn’t forced me to do so yet, there’s probably no event coming from within the game that’ll incite it, so we’ll have to see what happens elsewhere.  This, though, is probably the last you’ll hear from me off the 6P wavelengths for awhile.  I hope you’re able to understand where I’ve been coming from for the last while, understand (or at least respect) what I’m saying today, and I hope you have the absolutely best going forward.

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