I bought a minivan this weekend.  This is a huge problem, and I’ll explain why.

I guess I actually bought it for my wife.  She drives the kids around more than I do.  But it is in my name, so technically I own a minivan.

(Bear with me here.  EDH content is on the way.  I promise.)

Here’s the thing, though; this thing is awesome.  Big, comfy heated leather seats, killer surround-sound system, classy wood grain on the dash, moon roof, the doors open and close themselves, and a DVD player in the back.  I literally snuck out on my lunch break today to eat my sandwich in the back while watching The Road Warrior. 

I’m actually jealous she gets to drive this thing regularly.  It’s really that incredible…and therein lies the problem.  You see, in order to get this thing home, I had to spend time in a dealership haggling over price and signing paperwork and making phone calls and rejecting offers until everything lined up and I shook the salesman’s hand.

Again, it’s a minivan.  I busted my ass (figuratively) to buy a minivan.

You see, when you’re young minivans are kind of a mixed bag.  They’re fine when they are loaded to the gills with your stuff as your parents cart you around to friends’ houses and basketball practices and off to go snowboarding with your friends on the weekend, but the understanding is that you don’t actually have any choice in the matter.  You get to reap the benefits of the van, because it’s your parents that actually own it.  As uncool as they’re supposed to be, at least you can point to mom and dad and say, “Hey…I’m just a kid.  Not my fault…talk to them.”

This is because, at their core, minivans are the utilitarian antithesis of cool.  They represent growing up and settling down and wearing a tie and working a desk job and going to school board meetings and accruing 401K accounts.  It’s kind of like the kid in you sells out the moment you actually own one.  They’re the polar opposite of the word fun.

Getting one is like a milestone.  Welcome to being an adult.  Enjoy being uncool and boring and sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair yelling at the damn kids on your front lawn.

But it’s actually not that cut and dried.

Buying this thing is actually the thing that helped me learn a little something this weekend.  It’s a secret that adults will never let you in on until you learn it for yourself.  And it’s pretty incredible.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

.     .     .

Magic is supposed to be fun.  It’s a game, after all.  You choose to spend hard-earned dollars and spare time learning the rules and nuances and getting your hands on all those hard-to-find singles to make your decks work correctly.  Maybe you live for Standard, or maybe you’re part of our EDH world.  Really, it’s all the same.  You’re here because this is something you love, something you want to do.  Your life is full of things that suck, whether it’s getting up to work a job you don’t like every day, or grinding out classes to get your degree, or dealing with bullies at school.  I’ve said it a million times before – I do what I have to do so that I can do what I love to do.  I certainly wouldn’t spend fifty hours a week behind a desk if it was up to me…I’d be setting up a train set with my son, rocking my daughter to sleep, grabbing dinner and a movie with my wife, having a get-together with my family, and then heading out to catch a night of EDH at the shop.

There’s so much good, and so little time to fit it in around all of the not-so-good.

There’s a trend in the EDH community.  It isn’t so different from other formats, really; people love to gripe about things.  At our core, we love to complain first, build decks and play a distant second.  Think about it; how many hours a week do you actually sit down at a table with three or four other people to play EDH?  Now, compare that to how many hours a week you spend on Twitter or MTGSalvation forums or whatever just arguing about things?  How long did you spend debating the effects and driving motivation the Rules Committee exhibited in banning Sylvan Primordial?  How much do you love to complain about combo decks and land destruction?  How irritated do you get when you end up mana screwed and someone goes off with Cabal Coffers into Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth into Exsanguinate?

I bet the balance is way off.

We love to complain.  We love to set limits.  We love to tell the new player in the shop exactly what cards are overplayed staples and should be avoided.  We love to go through decks and pick out cards that we don’t like.  The good is that we’re invested heavily in this game and this format because we love it.  The bad is that we might be a bit grizzled and sour in the process.

You know what card I love?  Armageddon.  I haven’t played it in eighteen years, but man do I love that card.  It’s a board wipe, after all; this puts it into the same rarified air as Wrath of God.  In fact, I remember cracking packs back when Revised was current, and feeling like Armageddon was one of the “good” cards to pull from a pack.  It’s this memory of the card that I love the most, or perhaps this is the only reason I love it.

Because man, does this card ever ruin EDH.  Think about it; when I say “Armageddon”, what comes to mind?

Kaalia of the Vast.  Turbo-Armageddon/free beaters.  Prison beatdown.  Long, boring games spent watching one person try to slowly kill a resource-starved table.

You see how that works?  I bet some of you are thinking about a player who runs this deck, or how much you hate to see it at the table.  Maybe you’re thinking about a similar deck that drives you nuts.  Unless you are that Kaalia player, you’re probably not thinking happy thoughts.

This brings us to the mission statement, folks.  Try to be something better than all of that.  You got started somewhere along the line, and at that time, Magic was wide open.  No outward influences, no preconceived notions.  Everything was new and wonderful and cool and exciting.  Try to go back and find that place, even if it’s only for one day, or one session, or one game.  Remember how you used to feel when you heard that you could beat someone before they got to take a turn with a Black Lotus, a Mountain, Channel, and a Fireball.  If someone pops off a Palinchron loop and combos the table out in some huge fashion, give them that moment with a smile instead of trashing them or the play they made.

Put down the staples if you rely on them heavily, or pick them back up again if you haven’t touched them in a bit.  If you play casual decks all the time, try out a competitive one.  If you play full-on Texas-dollars powerhouse decks, put together a pauper EDH deck.  Grab that one card out of your binder that you have really fond memories of and will never trade, and toss it in a deck – even if it sucks.  Just take it back to a good place.

And try to take everyone with you when you go.  Don’t talk house-bans; talk to the other players to figure out other ways of doing things.  Write a blog, or write for a blog.  Give someone a card and challenge them to do something cool with it.  Lend out a deck to someone to try.  Challenge negative attitudes by taking charge and pushing better vibes and ideas.

Have fun, dammit.  That’s why we’re all here.  Even if it’s only for one turn, or one stack interaction, or playing one card, just try to remember why you started playing to begin with.  It might just take you somewhere you aren’t expecting to go, but I promise you’ll be a little brighter for the experience.

.    .    .

Oh…the secret?  It’s crazy-simple.  No-one ever grows up.  You know your grandfather, sitting comfortably in his recliner in the living room, wearing the knitted slacks and reading the newspaper?  The pants are comfortable, dammit, and they were in style in that place in time that he forever wants to be in.  The newspaper?  Give it fifty or sixty years, and your grand-kids will be saying the same thing about you and your iPad.

No-one grows up.  They all just find ways to stay that same kid they used to be, happy to be doing what they like to do and grudgingly doing the stuff people tell them they need to do.  They hate to go to work, and they hate dentist appointments, and they secretly don’t want to eat their vegetables.  They live for the moments when they get to do the things they love, whether it’s shuffling up 100-card decks on the weekend with their old friends, or going out to dinner and a movie with their significant other, or lying on the floor, playing with their kids.

“Growing up” is nothing but a myth, so just be who you are and don’t worry.  I’m still the same kid I always was and always will be, choice of cars, jobs, or lives be damned.  You’ll be the same.

Oh…and for the record, I love my minivan.  The thing is big and comfortable and lets me watch Mad Max movies at work.  That’s awesome.

And just in case you need any more proof, I got the Arctic Frost paint color.  That’s a $250 upgrade for premium finish.

That’s right…I foiled out my minivan.

 

-Cass

@GDCCommander