Weathering the Storm

After 31 years of living, the most life-threatening moment of my life is coming.

As of my writing this, it’s 11:45 pm on Friday September 8th, 2017. I live in Southwest Florida. And, in 24 hours, the most powerful hurricane ever in recorded history, Hurricane Irma, is going to be colliding head-on with the city where I live.

I’ve been through hurricanes before, but nothing like this. I wouldn’t say I’m scared or terrified. I think the best way to describe it is that I’m just really, really, not looking forward to it. An event like this brings a lot of uncertainty.

Is my house going to survive 160+ mph winds?

Is my roof going to collapse on me on at any time during the storm?

Is my neighborhood going to get so flooded out that I’ll be trapped?

Is my stuff going to be destroyed, leaving me with absolutely nothing but the shirt on my back?

Naturally, it’s a little bit difficult to sleep in a situation like this and my mind is constantly racing with 1,000 different thoughts. But the main thing that dominates my mind in this time of extreme uncertainty is not fear, but rather gratitude.

I’m grateful I have a strong house that I think, and hope, can withstand the coming storm. I’m grateful that I have a room full of survival supplies should things take a turn for the worst. I’m grateful that I have a wonderful circle of friends and family who have been checking in on me and wishing me all the best.

And, should I come out unscathed, I’ll be extremely grateful that I still have my life, even if I lose everything. I’m fine with losing everything. After all, it’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. My life can’t.

This makes me think of something similar to Magic.

I think gratitude is important in Magic, even more so when things aren’t exactly going well and when there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding your career. Maybe you’ve been losing a lot lately. Or maybe you’ve been playing really badly lately and you feel like you’re not as good as you thought you were. Maybe you feel like you don’t have what it takes, or that you’re losing it.

In the hardest of times, practice gratitude. Be grateful that you get to play a game you love that makes you feel good. Be grateful that you even have the means to play in tournaments, because in some places in the world, organized tournament Magic isn’t even a possibility. Be grateful that you have a store to play at. Be grateful that you have friends to lean on and support you. And, most importantly, be grateful that you always have the opportunity to change the future and make it better.

I understand that Sunday can be a day that changes my life for the worst, but I refuse to focus on that. If that happens, it happens. I can’t control or prevent that outcome from happening, so it is what it is.

Instead, I’m going to believe in and focus on the best outcome possible. I believe in the capability of my home to withstand the storm. I believe in my capability to get by without power, internet, cell phone reception, and running water for several weeks. That confidence and positive thinking will help me to cope with the coming storm and its inevitable aftermath.

And, I don’t see Hurricane Irma as a problem. I see it as a challenge. Can I overcome this challenge? Can I defeat this enemy and come out the victor? I’ve done everything I can to overcome it. I’ve fortified my house. I’ve boarded up my windows. I’ve gathered supplies. And, should my house manage to crumble in the middle of the storm, I’m confident that I can overcome that challenge by hiding under some form of shelter and riding out the rest of it.

If you’re losing a lot lately, playing really badly, or just feel like you’re not good enough, it starts by not falling into the trap of believing that the way things are now is the way things are always going to be. You have to believe in the best possible outcome. You have to believe that despite having three bad tournaments in a row and despite not playing well recently, you can spike the next one, take it down, and get back to performing your best. You have to believe in that and keep your mind focused on that outcome instead of allowing your mind to dwell on how bad things are at the moment.

Next, you have to see your situation as a challenge, not a problem. Can you overcome the challenge of a losing streak? Can you overcome the challenge of a string of bad performances? Studies have conclusively shown that when people see things as challenges instead of problems, everything from confidence, performance, well-being, and success-rates increase across the board. They’re more willing to tackle something and overcome it when they see it as a challenge to overcome rather than one to fear.

Surviving the biggest hurricane in history is a lot like going into a Grand Prix. When you walk into a GP, your future 48 hours from that moment is going to be whatever it’s going to be. That future outcome is not in your control in that moment. You’ve done everything you can to prepare but the variance could simply stack up against you. You could draw terribly every game or face your worst matchup every round.

All you can do is to get yourself through the tournament by performing your best, believing in yourself, and enjoying the ride.

My future 48 hours from this moment is going to be whatever it’s going to be. I can’t control the future outcome at this moment. Despite all of my preparation, the variance could stack up against me and this thing could intensify back to a Category 5 before hitting my home. My house could crumble or completely flood out. I could lose every possession I own and be left with nothing but the shirt on my back. But again, I can’t allow myself to worry about that because that fate is beyond me. All I can do is acknowledge and have confidence in the fact that I’ve done everything I can to prepare for what’s coming. My mission now is to get myself through this storm, believe in myself, and enjoy the ride.

“Enjoy the ride?” you might be wondering. Yes, I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to be like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump when he sits on top of the mast, shouting into the crashing waters, “IT’S TIME FOR A SHOWDOWN! I’M RIGHT HERE! COME AND GET ME! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” I’m going to be like Jack Sparrow in The Dead Man’s Chest when he stares directly into the face of the Kraken with a smirk on his face. “Hello beasty…”

Whether it’s in Magic or in life, you ultimately get to decide how you react to the things that you experience. When that losing streak comes, you get to decide whether that losing streak will destroy you or drive you. When you find yourself facing a win and in for your first ever Pro Tour Top 8, you get to decide whether that experience causes you to feel fear or excitement. When faced with the greatest hurricane in history, I get to choose whether or not I want to spend all of my time worrying or whether I want to embrace the showdown, greet the beast, and enjoy the ride. After all, how often does a person get to be inside the eye wall and the very epicenter of the largest hurricane ever?

I’m ready. Let’s do this.

To anyone else who has to face Hurricane Irma, I wish you the absolute best and I’m rooting for you from afar.

To everyone else, as always, I appreciate you reading, and take care!

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