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On (Not) Being Alone

Not all time spent with others is eqally valuable.

The value of your time spent with others falls on a wide spectrum. Here I'm talking about value in terms of value to each person, the value of the relationship, and the value to each person's life outside of the relationship with the other person.

At one extreme end of the spectrum are activities which are detrimental to both people, and which the people encourage or support each other to engage in (see: codependency). An extreme example would be two alcoholics who drink together, each of whom helps the other one justify his self-destructive habit. A less extreme example would be two people who like to complain to one another and make excuses about their failures in different areas, each one absolving the other one of responsibility for problems in his or her life.

On the low end of the spectrum of value are activities which are not harmful, but are generally a waste of a time. Watching TV, playing video games, or engaging in other time-wasting activities might strengthen a relationship to some degree by virtue of the rapport and trust built by enjoying the activity together, but nothing of value to anyone else comes of it.

Higher up in the spectrum is conversation. Getting to know another person on a level deeper than the superficial is valuable to both people. Conversations like this usually involve people’s plans, their ideas, their motivations, and their values. This is valuable to both people because a) each participant is exposed to ideas and concepts they weren't previously aware of, b) each person can more fully develop and examine their own thoughts when they expose them to another person’s perspective, c) trust and understanding are built in great strides when people connect on this level, and d) when discussing plans or dreams, each person can try to find ways to help the other person achieve their goals or bring their plans to fruition.

Playing in the World Series of Poker as an Underqualified Amateur

On Tynan

To my left is Barry Schulman, the owner of CardPlayer magazine, and a professional poker player. At the next table over is Jennifer Harman, considered to be one of the very best limit hold'em players in the world. As the dealer starts flinging the cards around our table, Jennifer stands up. She's just been busted out of the same tournament I'm playing.

I look down at my cards and see pocket queens, the third best hand you can be dealt. I've been waiting for a hand like this for hours.

Amid a field of 675 poker players, the majority of them professionals, and a handful of them famous, only 100 players remain. Improbably, I'm one of them. Luck has a giant part to play in this, of course. If not, I would have been busted out long before Jennifer Harman was. But at the same time, playing for twelve hours with some of the best poker players on earth has given me a lot of confidence. They're better than me, but I've held my own. I'm good enough, at least, to not be totally run over.

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