First things first, I was not a winner this month. Now that we have that out of the way I can really begin to talk about how this month was a bit of a game changer for me personally and how I am truly excited about the direction my poker, and life, are heading. This month didn’t come without it’s pretty serious hiccups, one of those being that I genuinely thought my Dad was dying in front of me. To most readers that would be some absolute intense shit and something I seem to be writing about with such a blase attitude. The fact of the matter is that I find myself, at least feeling, that I am ready to cope with such a life defining moment and have been amply prepared for such a sudden shift in circumstances ever since I have returned home, and in retrospect, ever since my mum died ten years ago to this very day.
I really don’t want to delve deep into the situation that I have find myself in at home, that is not because I’m scared to talk about any of it or that I have something to hide or any of that other crap that people will bander around in times of emotional stress or heartache. I won’t dive into it too much because quite simply all my feelings surrounding the subject are basis for a whole new blog post. But to keep things very brief ten years ago to this day my Mum died after being diagnosed with cancer and given 2 weeks to live (I wouldn’t have known it was exactly ten years ago today if it wasn’t for my brothers text this morning). Also a couple of months later my girlfriend at the times Mum died suddenly in a crash and thus set me up for my general feelings of the world around me and knowing full well that you really do not know when it is your time to check out. To say that those deaths surrounding me at the tender age of 18 were ‘the best things to ever happen to me’ might be taking things to the extreme, but they certainly shaped my views of the world, life, and how you should go about making sure yours counts towards something. But I digress, the reason all this gets mentioned is because Dad hasn’t quite been the same since that fateful day. An old, disabled man, with diabetes and in constant pain due to his legs, you can forgive him for not always enjoying life that has surrounded him. For the best part he’s been alright for the last 10 years, not perfect, not a shining star, but definitely alright. But there comes a time when the stress and strain of life that is being played out before your eyes can just become too much and with it your motivation to continue can diminish pretty rapidly. That is at least my view of the events that have unfolded, not just in the last year, but in the years I was away (I only had to ‘deal’ with Dad every month or so over the phone and even that was sometimes a very straightforward conversation; football, his feet, where I was, where was I going, rinse and repeat for 3 years) Since my return his health has gotten increasingly worse and recently he has collapsed a couple of times. We have had more than one heated discussion, if you can call it that, about how he doesn’t care about living anymore and it’s all becoming a bit too much. This doesn’t even scratch the surface about the feelings me and my brother have as his kids (ever felt like you wanted your own parent to die? I’m going to assume it’s a lot more common than people would like to think, it was even a major topic in a blog post I wrote a few months ago but decided not to publish it for the obvious reasons).
Now I won’t go into any more detail for the reasons mentioned before. To summarise the month, my Dad ended up going into hospital not once, but twice, and eventually had a pacemaker fitted after it was discovered that his heart rate was too slow. What I took from this ordeal and what I will continue to see is the positives from such a traumatizing experience. I have a great Aunt who I know is there if I ever need anything, a caring older brother who I know has taken on greater responsibility than me, my closest friends who I regularly find alongside me in the middle of a punk pit singing our hearts out, and last but not least, and maybe one of the most important things, although I don’t want to make this about me at all but, I have to find solace in my own mind. I recently finished reading an absolutely brilliant book called Man’s Search For Meaning and it was about a holocaust concentration camp survivor who talked about the human attributes and mental toughness of certain people who vowed to stay alive even amongst such death and destruction. Before you started screaming at the computer screen in fits of rage, no of course I am not saying I would have bloody survived the holocaust, of course not, I am not a complete twat. But the book itself was extremely informative and reconfirmed a few ideas I have had and read about previously, mainly your attitude towards the things that happen to you. If you get a chance to read it then I thoroughly recommend it.
So talking about minds and mental attribution, it would be hard not to move forward from the depressing shit and get onto the poker. I guess it could easily be counted as depressing considering my results in the last few months. This month was no different, down a few buys and all my classic excuses come back to fruition. However this time I can really feel the difference in my approach. After reading The Mental Game of Poker 2 and taking away a few pointers, I am getting ever closer to getting my mental state in the correct frame of mind. Setting up proper pre poker warm ups, cool downs and diaries all go a great way to making sure you are playing poker at your A-game, and if not your A-game then you are actively improving your C game. Think of it as a journey you take in your car or on a bicycle. Sometimes you’ll be driving home and will literally not notice anything on your way home from work, you are in complete autopilot, lost in your thoughts of the day or of tomorrow. This is fine to a certain degree, but with it comes an increased risk of an accident, or missing out of something beautiful, this is your C-game. While imagine being in your A-game as you come home. You notice the colour of the leaves, the birds in the trees, the sound of the cars, the people chatting. You are aware of nearly every bit of information available to you. Obviously being in your A game is a better option than a C-game. While in both cases you achieve your goal of getting home (or playing poker) the actual experience you had while getting there were 2 totally different encounters. The aim of poker is to always try and be in your A-game. Easier said than done when you’re playing thousands of hands a day, but I am beginning to understand what I need to do in order for me to be more consistent. With all the bad results of poker over the last 6 months it was time to take a little break and do the one thing that is above everything else, music. And lots of it.
Mighty Sounds 2016 was everything I want from a festival, great company, great music, cheap beer, cheap food, and an overwhelming sense that everyone is there to have a good time. I love UK festivals, especially Boomtown which is coming up in less than week, but Mighty Sounds just has that sense of something really special, and it is solely created by the people. I haven’t been to many gigs where you’re chilling watching a band on the main state and then a complete stranger passes you their spliff just because. It was random acts of kindness like this that truly creates something special. This something special isn’t created my outlandish film sets, or over the top states or even by an absolute stellar lineup, no, it is created by the people. The best example I can give is by the hilariously cheap (less than £1) falafel stall that we regularly ate at. On our first outing into the arena, we stumbled upon the food stall and instantly began joking and laughing with the young guys that worked their. Us being English obviously helped, but within the space of a few minutes we had a sense of comradery. This was backed up by my drunken arrival to the same stall the next day. The high fives, big smiles and cheeky talk culminated in an hilarious exchange for myself, where my simple purchase of a falafel gave way to a fully stamped reward card and a brand new Mighty Sounds branded t-shirt. Festivals will always been a near heaven for me, my relationship to music is beyond comparable to anything on this earth, and so with that I wish you a great August. I’ve got a little bit of poker to play, but I’ve also got that small little visit to Heaven in England.
Boomtown 2016…are you ready?
Sometimes there are more important things to look at.