Monday, January 28, 2008

Balls to the Wall


i've gone ridiculously crazy over getting to the world series of poker. playing multiple qualifiers a day, spending a lot of time playing during the summer, and just essentially poring my energy into one goal. making it.

somewhere along the line in the past 10 years, i've become completely jaded. a series of events, albeit not so tragic in the grand scheme of things, made me lose touch of what was important in life. it took something like the WSOP to make me realize a lot of things and to reassess the nature of my situation.

when you grow up in an asian immigrant household, trying to meet your parents' high expectations, let me tell you, it sucks. all my life, i've been living in a structured manner, being a momma's boy (even my mom calls me a momma's boy derogatorily sometimes), following the rules as lazily as i could to achieve the harvard or bust goal that had been set out for me.

a lot of my life has therefore been somewhat stressful, with a mother who wouldn't sleep until i practiced my violin, or a father who'd wake up at 3am to make sure i wasn't playing starcraft in the middle of the night. and because of my rigid adherance to the rules, being cool was not an easy task. in fact, a friend of mine still thinks i'm uncool, and references another doug he knows as cool-doug because i've not reached cool status yet. though it was somewhat paradoxical since the cool-doug wanted to meet the uncool-doug (me) after the wsop.

after an event (i won't get to into it since i don't want to be too emo this entry) in 7th grade, and because of the way my life was going, it was easy for me to get into a "me against the world" mentality as someone brought up to me. i always knew that i thought this way, it was just interesting to think about it in an actual idea. so EVERYTHING became a "me against the world" thing. i even created a persona, the tech, to hide behind my insecurities growing up.

towards the latter half of my high school career, i started to change drastically. my outlook on life became totally optimistic, and it seemed like everything was falling into place. my junior year, was actually the best year experience wise, strangely enough. although it was difficult, i actually found most of the work i was doing to be rewarding. i was a young boy prepared to go off to college and find the great things that awaited me, after all my toils and struggles.

that's why the reason why getting into harvard or not was a big deal for me back in the day, was because that was what my worth amounted to be. i had unfortunately poured my heart and soul into the purpose of not just getting into a good school, but a select few in particular. i had equated the reason i was suffering a structured life and was fighting the world was to say "fuck off, i made it, biatches" at the end of it all. but it didn't happen. if you're an avid reader of my xanga, you'll know how the story goes, as i've whined plenty about it.

because of my mindset, i came into college with a meh perspective. i didn't allow myself to let go of things. i didn't let myself mature. that's why i'm still the immature person you see today, struggling to find out what the hell is going on with life, trying to settle into comfortability. the highest points of my college life was when i actually went out there and pursued something, when i tried to make out for myself a purpose. but because of my lack of perspective, it was hard to see the opportunities i had at duke, to be active, to build relationships, etc., which is why i left with such a pang of regret, and wrote that entry for incoming freshman a while back. DON'T WASTE YOUR COLLEGE LIFE! haha i've been saying that to a lot of people lately.

i had this lack of perspective up till even europe, when i was just content being emo, even when i had a great job, a summer to chill, and had an opportunity to explore the unknown. instead i wanted to stay in hostels with internet connections so i could play my online qualifiers on pokerstars.

playing in the world series was awesome fun. at any moment your life is on the line, and the thrill of victory and outsmarting opponents at every turn is awesome, no matter how much knish says it's a pipe dream on rounders. i was given a series of pep talks, most of which were at me being at odds and being tempted to cut my losses and try to sneak into more money. regular tournament strategy dictates that most of the money is found at the top of the ladder, and your expected value rises from going for first. going for first. that became my goal. i wanted to win. to succeed. to acheive.

and so by the luckiest run of cards i've had, (up till day 7, imo where i had to fight to survive) i managed to go far. it was ridiculous. sitting at the final table, a few seats next to allen cunningham, on ppv broadcast for the poker world to spectate, was simply amazing. the lights, the cameras, even the annoying wire you had to attach to your pants was fun. it was almost a dream come true. then i got knocked out. even then, i left with the feeling that i had done everything i could, that i put my game out there.

it was a big reflection, and amongst people i talked to, that i realized that i went all out balls to the walls for the WSOP. i talked about it friends, just how playing would be awesome in itself. most of my life, besides the WSOP, LNY 2004, junior year of high school, was lived passively. it was only when i went out and busted my ass for something that i amounted to something. it may well be God's way of saying i'm living for Him passively as well, and i need to start busting my ass as a christian, or that may amount to nothing for me in the end.

perspective. someone told me recently that everything is about perspective. right now, i feel like i have to make a lot of big decisions that will impact the rest of my life. or maybe they won't. what's important is that perspective, for me to find that bigger picture and start going after it. it took me 10 years to figure this idea out. getting there, well, that's the hard part.

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