To be understood



In all the big ways, I’ve lived a charmed life. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed good health and a supportive family, and I’ve even been able to make a living doing something that I love in Magic: the Gathering. However, one lifelong curse of mine is that I have a hard time making deep connections with others.

Don’t get me wrong, I get along with people. I have fun with them. And I have many people that I love between my partner, my family and my friends. However, I’m highly introverted and I tend to be more the logical than the emotional type. So even when I try to really express my feelings, it doesn’t come easily. It probably doesn’t help that I’m a very unusual person who leads a very unusual life. Whatever the reason, those moments of meaningful connection, where two people really understand each other - for me those are few and far between.

New Territories

There came a point in my life that I was considering a job offer. I faced two very different paths, one of which would cause a major upheaval in my life. It would be a change of location, a change of lifestyle and of course, a huge change in my relationship to competitive MTG. I felt lost.

I had many conversations, asking opinions from people I respect and trust. Most of their answers boiled down to, “Tough call, I’m sure you’ll make a good decision!”

I used up dozens of notebook pages comparing things like income opportunities and benefits. I tried to translate the intangibles - enjoyment, flexibility, passion - into things that could be represented by dollars and cents. I desperately wanted a clear-cut answer that my logical mind would be able to process. Unable to make a choice, I did the most extreme thing I could think of: I went to talk to my father.

My dad is nothing if not practical (I suppose that’s a common quality in dads, or at least it’s common for their children to perceive that quality in them). My most memorable lessons growing up centered on responsibility, self-sufficiency and not leaving things up to chance.

Needless to say, I thought I was walking into a conversation about health insurance and 401-K’s. I explained the situation and outlined the pros and cons, careful not to leave out key details lest my immaturity and lack of financial savvy should show through.

“Sounds like a no-brainer,” he said to me.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I know how much playing Magic means to you. If there’s an option that lets you keep doing that, pick that one.”

That was the answer, and I knew it as soon as I heard it. In one breath, he’d solved the problem I’d been struggling with for a week. In that moment, he knew me even better than I knew myself. I couldn’t remember another time in my life where that had been true. About anyone.

He understood.

We didn’t need to talk much more after that, and I never gave those notebook pages another look. I declined that job offer and continued on the path of MTG competition.

Was it the right call? Depends on whom you ask. Those who know me would say it was.

Author: Reid Duke

Magic the Gathering Hall of Fame, Member of Team CFB UltimateGuard

Magic runs in the family for Reid. When Reid was five, his mom came home one day with two Magic starter packs for him and his brother Ian. They both hardly knew the rules but they muddled through as best they could with the rules inserts. 26 years later, Reid’s now one of Magic’s most successful and respected players in the world. Learn more about Reid.