Last night in the car driving home from playing Commander, the song “Rockstar” by Nickleback started playing on the radio. My head quickly filled with thoughts as the song played through the stock sound system of my subcompact beater. If memory serves, I think that we, as a people, had already all joined together and agreed that “Rockstar” received enough radio plays and we could retire it permanently.

I guess it was just a dream? I performed my best schizophrenic impression and debated if a sellout rockstar singing about how he would sell out to be a rockstar was a better example of irony that Alanis Morissette’s imagination could muster. Midway through that odd though the line “every Playboy bunny with her bleached blonde hair” rang through and teenage memories flared back through my mind like a squirrel through a dog’s gaze.

When I was younger I used to think that Victoria’s Secret models and Heff’s string of lovers represented the epitome of perfection in women. Watching movies, when someone like Bonnie Bedelia, Linda Hamilton, Marina Sirtis, or Carie Fisher came on screen, I failed to fathom how a normal person could even talk to woman that beautiful. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that when I first started seriously playing Magic my preferences were the same. Expensive and beautiful cards such as the Moxen, Force of Will, and Mishra’s Workshop held my lustful desires. Even in other games I followed the same pattern of wanting the most sought after, most expensive parts of the collections.

I had to ask myself what attracted me to these kinds of treasures. Naturally all of these people and things draw attention. They are in your face and high profile. More than that, they were all things I had never had before. I was idolizing models and actresses before I ever dated. I wanted the legacy and vintage staples before I ever played legacy or vintage. More than the actual people and objects I wanted the idea of those items and women. At the end of the day, what it came down to was that I wanted things that I could show off to other people. I really wanted people to be impressed by me and what I had in life.

Back in reality, I’ve dated some beautiful women. I’ve owned power and other vintage and legacy staples. I’ve even finally won ‘player’s choice’ and paint competitions for miniature gaming. The idol worship of all of this wears off astonishingly quickly. As soon as something becomes real, you get up close and see the flaws that mar the beauty you see from afar. Women I’ve just dated for their looks led to some of my worst dating experiences of all times. As life decided to show me, you need to be able to have a conversation to enjoy a romantic evening. Who would have guessed?

Dual lands and other expensive cards seemed great, right up until I realized I would have more fun with an extra deck than lands that tapped for two colors. I also found out that showing off a date or your possessions made me look, and feel, like a douchebag. Really the only people who care about the cup size of another person’s date or the price of cards in another player’s deck are immature themselves. Once you get rid of the boasting aspect, a lot of the appeal of having the ‘best’ goes away with it.

Happiness has been my reward for learning these lessons. My wife is gorgeous, but even if she gained 200 lbs she would still be gorgeous in my mind. We met sharing a hobby we both loved, dancing, and we are great friends and lifelong companions. It’s a connection I could never have with a partner that I chose only for physical appearances.

I play my budget decks far more, and have more fun with them than my collector decks (Rhys and Arcum). It’s better to have the variety and be on the same page as my friends than stomp them with a diamond encrusted gold boot. Painting has become more fun and relaxing since I gave up on impressing other people. It’s more scotch and classical music than it is sweating to finish before a competition.

The real kicker behind it all is that my view on things I used to idolize has taken a complete 180. Not only did I decide to focus on other aspects, I now dislike my immature idols. Women who take hours getting ready, spend tons of time shopping, and spend every day at the gym don’t have the time that I would like to spend with my wife. When people focus that much time on their physical appearance it becomes their primary hobby or job. Since I don’t share that interest, I can’t imagine being with someone who was obsessed with it.

When you play with really expensive Magic cards you have to constantly know where they are and you need to be concerned with someone accidentally spilling a soda on your life savings worth of cardboard. With Miniatures, if I care too much about trying to win best painted I end up painting my own models for other people, and that’s not a hobby. It’s just another job.

It’s amazing to think about how we mature through our lives and hobbies. Some things we thought we wanted end up being what we need least in life. I’ve learned that happiness comes from function over form and that focusing on possessions and superficial aesthetics to impress others really leaves me looking pathetic. Most amazing of all, thinking about all of this got me almost all the way through that terrible song before I realized what I was doing and switched FM stations.