Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Take It Or Leave It

Over the last year or two I've been trying to learn about ... it's hard to be specific. The way the mind works and how you can become, at the very least, calmer and more relaxed about things around you. Call it Zen, call it Tao, call it whatever you like. As it says in the Tao Te Ching, very first line as it happens, "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao". Obv the rest of it then speaks about the Tao. Sort of :-).

That's my ego getting its little dig in. We'll see who has the last laugh. Just recently I've come across my favourite book to date, which is The Power Of Now. Read this book with an open mind and it will help you. Yes you. There's so much in this book that I could talk about, in regard to how it relates to my life and mental state. And I probably will (hippy blog alert). For now, let's just consider one small part of what it's saying.

If there's a situation you don't like, you basically have three options. Accept it, change it or leave it. Let's look at a couple of things I have been moaning like fuck about over the last couple of years. Number one : the WSOP and the corporatization of poker. Can I change that ? Nope. Can I leave it ? To an extent. I can turn my back on live poker but of course whatever game I play in someone's running it, someone's picking up the rake and they are probably going to use some of it to promote their site by putting muppets into live tournaments.

The last Matchroom tournament I played, I really enjoyed it. I know it went well but even so, I was relaxed, enjoyed the rush of playing in front of the cameras and was totally immersed in the game. Now, Matchroom are making money out of this and to an extent they are using the players to do this. So ? A few people have run good in these (not me though obv) and gained a reputation that's rather bigger than their talent. So ? A commentator might not like a play I make and criticise me for it on TV. SO ? What does any of this matter to me if I enjoy playing it ?

Similarly with the WSOP. Harrah's are raking the tournaments (Matchroom don't). ESPN are giving the players the square root of fuck all. The four month delay is a joke all round. TV players receive favourable rulings and generally swank around as if they're in Entourage. Bottom-feeding agents creep out of the shadows to exploit the naive. Immature, insecure people shoot angles and criticise others, including me, if things don't go their way. I definitely can't change any of that. My remaining options are accept it and play, or leave it and don't.

After telling everyone for the last 3 months I'm not going, I might change my mind on this one, and have a bash for a couple of weeks at the start. If I don't cop, come back, if I do, spin it up some more. What's most important is that if I do go, I accept that all of the above is how it is. The vast majority of it doesn't directly affect me (and I can definitely afford the rake), so ignore it. Better still, laugh at it.

Now I've gone on about poker more than I intended to, but all the same arguments basically apply to the corporatization of football. I sure as hell can't change that. Whether I accept it or leave it ... we'll see. There's always a middle ground there too - go whenever I feel like it but, once again, if I decide to go, then accept that the players are paid too much, fans moan a lot, sometimes my team plays crap and/or loses, etc.

There are other aspects of the book and the general idea that apply. Lots of them. Don't separate yourself from other people - this especially applies in football. If I see a Palace fan on the tube, as I did yesterday, I shouldn't be thinking "wanker", as I also did. It's the journey that counts, not the destination. "I'll be happy if QPR get promoted/I win a bracelet". Yes, temporarily. Then what ? If enjoy watching football, playing poker or whatever I do irrespective of the result, then that's permanent. And whatever you do, do it with your full attention. Here and now. Don't sit at a football match thinking "If I get the first train home, I might make the 100 rebuy". Don't sit at a poker table with Green Day on your headphones, hoping the break comes soon so you can have an ice cream bar. Focus on what you're doing when you're doing it. Then when it's finished, leave it behind and focus on now again. Now.

I have a long way to go, but I've come a long way as well. I'm a lot better about not dwelling on the past or daydreaming about the future. Sometimes when I'm reading a book, playing poker or just walking in the park I can switch off and find myself "in the zone". A little more each day, and we'll get there. Or we won't. It doesn't matter. That's the whole point ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eureka! Meditation at the Buddist Centre next? Almost certainly - you won't be able to resist.

See you there.


7:42 AM  
Blogger Digbeth Slacker said...

I drifted out of playing (online) Poker a while back but always enjoy reading your posts when they turn up in my RSS feed. Certainly cuts through the corporate/celeb wannabe bullshit that appears to have infested the game.
All the best Midge

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried the meditation at the Centre a couple of times last year. Didn't really get into it, but I might give it another spin.



11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you say, there's a lot to be taken away from this book if you approach it with an open mind. Curiously, the point that you mention is not dissimiular to the Serenity Prayer at AA meetings -- in other words, it was familiar to me.

Of far more significance for me was alluded to by you when you mentioned daydreaming. And in deed the title of the book hammers it dead. I was spending far too much time thinking about what had been that I had lost or what might happen in the future, all of which was either wasteful or negative or both. There's quite enough in the present (usually) to focus on. Think when you need to, don't when you don't. Oh, and I think this book prepares you well for meditation, and that's my next aim. I don't like calling books "life-changing" because I was actually recommended this book by someone because I had been espousing the thoughts that I expressed in my "epiphanic" blog one Sunday when I realized that many of the things that I was allowing to stress me actually didn't really matter. This book has showed me techniques to develop that line of thought. And just reading single paragraphs helps me calm down if I am stressing out. A life-saver.


7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another good source I recommend
is George Santayana "The Life of
Reason", which requires quite a
bit of effort to start, continue,
and finish reading but I found it
worth the effort.

Mostly "western style" philosophy,
but in tremendous detail, and with
careful tracing of how your actions
depend on your spirit and vice versa.

7:05 PM  

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