A common third

So I was sitting there in the backseat of a car, driving on the freeway from Aarhus, Jutland, on my way home from an awesome day of spell-slinging.

As you know, Peter had a gig to attend.

My compadres for this journey was Peter and The Other Thomas. Peter was driving. Sober as hell. The Other Thomas and me; not so much. Neither driving nor sober. Not in the least, I tell you!

We didn’t have to be, to be unreasonably clever. That is how we roll on these roadtrips. Oh, did I mention that Peter had put on his playlist for the gig he was going to? No? He had. It was awesome.

And then one of these magical (no pun, we had put aside our weapons of choice for the day) things happened. Our conversation hit the sweet spot. Our arguments levitated on a cloud of purity and life wisdom. In short, we solved the world problems (between the many pee-breaks. Beer and 40-year +/- old bladders…).

Of course I am in no way able to exactly reproduce the conversation in all of its beer-and-8-straight-hours-of-playing-OS-infused glory here, but let me try to draw out some of the points, we made.

Not having anything left to prove

Okay, we were once again talking about the experience we had just shared in LIC 4.0. And what an experience! It was – as I have mentioned before – one of those occasions where everything seemed to be planned to perfection, where even the people attending, knew what part they were to play, to make it the best possible day for all.

But we didn’t! Know, I mean. How could we? It was not as if the legendary LIC crew – the tournament organizers – had designated a specific role for each of the 78 (ish) attendants. That doesn’t even make sense.

But it almost felt like it.

How is it that these Old School gatherings still keep surprising me in terms of the amount of great people around? Of course, I should be used to it by now and expect nothing less – but I am not, and I do.

I know, I know, I have already praised the Old School community several times before, if not directly then very much between almost all of the many lines I write on these walls. But I know you dig it. And I for sure know I mean it.

This time it really hit me again. I keep comparing my Old School experiences with my former Magic experience, playing Legacy and Modern, and they are so, so different beasts. I have been thinking – and sometimes writing – about the reason for this, and it was once again one of the things we were discussing said night in said car between Aarhus and Svendborg in Denmark.

Our conclusion: Most of us don’t have anything left to prove.

Wait! – what?

You may say…

Okay, I admit I may have tightened that last sentence a bit too much.

My claim is, that most of the guys at an Old School gathering (at least the ones I attend here in Denmark) are middle-aged, rather privileged dudes with jobs, houses, cars and not least: Kids.

Having kids has a tendency of putting a lot of other things in perspective. Stuff suddenly doesn’t seem as important as they may once have. And that is a great thing if you are playing at a tournament with no or rather small prices and no real incentive to spike it like there was no tomorrow.

Having perspective, having nothing left to prove (besides being the best dad, husband, friend, whatever possible) may sound old and boring. Well, it probably is – maybe it has nothing to do with kids, but only age and the wisdom of knowing, that the world does not revolve around you winning a game of cards; that you are not your track record at a given tournament.

But it also makes the experience of a tournament so much greater, when winning is great and losing is just having a good time. That is where I want to be at least, and I am pretty sure this is at least one explanation to why the Old School crowd is always such a blast to be around.

Playing at Legacy and Modern tournaments, I often met players who clearly had something to prove – or at least thought they had – at one point I was one of those myself: if I didn’t top8 the weekly Legacy tournament, I felt it had been a waste of time. Sometimes I even had a bad time with a winning record! It is absolutely absurd, and it actually makes me a bit sad to think about.

But what about the headline for this post?     

… you probably wonder…

Or maybe not. Chances are, you have forgotten it anyway. It is “A common third”. And what is a common third you should ask, seeing as we are now getting to some kind of conclusion. Or at least the end of yet another set of random, incoherent scribblings from my part.

Anyway. It was The Other Thomas that mentioned this as one of the things that make the community great. We share a common third, he said. When I was googling the phrase, I found it has something to do with children pedagogy. The Other Thomas? What is this?

I found out – of course – that The Other Thomas was not just doing the strangest rick rolling-versuch in history. He had a point. The common third is a phrase used for a commonly shared situation or symbol that brings two people together – even if they don’t know each other, or if they don’t have a lot else in common.

Magic the Gathering is very much a common third for me and my opponents at the tournaments I attend. It is also a common third between me and the entire community. Of course this feeling of a common third can take different forms, and it can be more or less deep-rooted.

But when it comes to the Old School community in Denmark, my feeling is that this common third is not just a little thing, it matters. I am certain that I would be able to find a place to crash in a sticky situation in pretty much all of Denmark.

Hell, even though I have never attended an Old School tournament abroad, and have only met a couple of players from other countries than Denmark, I am fairly certain I would be able to find shelter in pretty much all of Europe and at least the northern parts of the Americas. Just because I play a certain format of a certain game.

I know that I would shelter many an Old Schooler just from knowing him or her from one of the forums, we share.

So how does all of this combine with the first half of the post?

I am not entirely certain. I guess there is a unifying point in the fact that, whether it is because of kids, old age or sheer wisdom (probably mostly the last), we rest in the fact that we are welcome. We do not have to prove ourselves to ensure an invitation to the next gathering.

And we can always find a floor to sleep on…

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