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the right path

December 2, 2008 | 7:45 am | JCarver

On the day after Thanksgiving, I had a chance to see a few different people.  In the morning (for me, like 3pm) I saw an uncle I don’t get the chance to see much, as well as my dad.  I didn’t see them for long, but it was a good hour or two of time spent with two people I spend way too little time with.  After seeing them, I came home for a bit and had one of my closer friends over along with his girlfriend, and had a fun time hanging out with them as well.  Soon enough, I had to cut that visit short too – I had dinner plans with yet another party, which brings me to the crux of my blog.

The man I saw on Friday evening is a person I first met many years ago.  We never really interacted too much until I was a teenager, but his advice and counsel has always been very wise and insightful throughout the years.  I respect this man very, very much and he has always been extremely forthcoming and honest with me.  I admire him a great deal.  He has many positive traits that I just don’t have, including an ability to understand and connect with people on a level that I hope I someday can.  Due to my busy traveling schedule and some other factors (shamefully poor excuses), I haven’t seen or really spoken to him in near 6 months, and was glad to finally get a chance to correct this last week.

We discussed many topics deeply that night, but there is only one that I am going to be sharing here.  After several hours of conversation, catching him up on all of my latest exploits and accomplishments, he asks a question to which I am still pondering the answer to.  He sits for a while, choosing his words carefully before speaking (something I should do more often).  Eventually, he says to me (slightly paraphrased) “Jason, you have clearly done well, you have a house, been successful financially, have travelled widely, yet to me, you seem… in turmoil, there seems to be some inner…discontent.”  My first reaction was to shrug it off quickly, to say that that’s just how I am – never too excited at anything, which some people take to mean I am unhappy since I’m not exactly the jump up and down type – but the more he spoke, the more I asked myself – Am I in turmoil?

When I was younger, I always figured I’d be doing something… important?  Productive?  Helpful?  Poker has never been a particularly fulfilling pursuit for me, and I’ve always said that it’s a stepping stone to other things.  I’ve never really worked on a plan, though, for what’s beyond the next few ’stones’ to take me away from poker.  Regardless, while I actually do enjoy poker itself, especially learning/teaching, I know I won’t be a professional player for longer than a few more years.  I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to college, not for a degree, but for some intellectual stimulation of sorts, hoping that might lead me towards a new, undiscovered path.  I have many smart friends, but particularly admire Leo’s intellectualism a great deal, and feel like there’s something incomplete in my current life.  Is that at least part of the turmoil I feel?  Some lack of academic challenge?  Alternatively, when did my desire to do something to help people fall and get replaced with an apathetic outlook and a ‘job’ as a poker player, a profession about as solitary and self-serving as it gets?  Is that the root of turmoil?

I do feel like there’s something missing, something more I could be doing, something I would be enjoying more.  Is that just standard human “grass is greener”, and really no matter what other things I did I actually wouldn’t be any happier or more satisfied than I currently am – if not much less so?

Regardless, I definitely do feel there is something, some turmoil within.  I’ve known all along – poker’s existence in my life has forever curved my path.  Whatever I was going to be, or could have been, went out the window when poker came knocking, with its allure of travel, freedom, and money.  I believe that my life is better now than it would be on that ‘other’ path – I’d just be getting out of college this or next semester – but would my life have been better in the future?  Am I somehow so far removed from what would have ‘made me truly happy’ by treading from the path I have that it’s unreachable?  Contrarily, am I actually on the right road to being truly fulfilled by doing what I’m currently doing, and if so, why am I in turmoil?

As the conversation progressed, I made a semi-joke about how I liked that poker enabled my laziness and the ability to sleep til 6pm.  I was insta-rewarded with a look of disappointment and a line of questions/conversation that ended at a realization for me.  I asked him if he was one of my parents, would he be proud of me.  He replied affirmatively, but with an exception : he would feel, as he does now, that there is more I am capable of than what I am currently doing.  “Jason,” he spoke firmly, “in life, there is nothing worse than wasted potential.”  Am I “wasting” my potential?  Don’t I have a lot of potential to be a world class poker player, though?  I’m definitely trying to be and working hard towards that.  Are there other things, though, that I could potentially be spending my talents on that would reward me in a better, greater, deeper fashion?  Is that very question the source of my turmoil?

I don’t really know the answer to that, but I have a feeling that exploring other options – even if it’s just exploring to the point of finding out that the answer is no – is important in filling that gap in me keeping me from being totally at peace and fulfilled.  Don’t get me wrong – I lead a great life, and I’m very, very grateful for everything I have, and for the most part, I’m very happy.  I am extremely thankful for the opportunities I’ve had at 21 and know I have awhile to find what’s the best route for me.  I know, as my mentor said to me last week, that it won’t be an easy search.  He says he knows he wasted potential of his own throughout his life, and was kind enough to provide me with some insightful examples.  The problem is, I believe, that I have allowed my poker-born laziness to infect my general mindset to the point where I am almost too lazy to bother trying to look for an end to my turmoil outside of poker, since I’m “mostly happy”.  Even if I fail at finding “it”, am I really so disgustingly lazy to bother trying?  What can I lose?

There was a 2p2 thread awhile back where a thread like this was made and a whole bunch of people with millions of dollars in earnings came in and cried about how they don’t feel like they’ve done enough to give back enough to the world.  Eventually, one guy pops in and is just like “shit, I have to work at a 9-5 desk job and I spent 6 years getting my masters in college, was the top of my class, everyone said I had potential, and look – my life blows.  I make 6 figures, yeah, but I work my ass off doing it.  Those fancy dreams of magic fairy tale jobs that fulfill and make you happy really don’t exist, at least not for most people.”  I agreed with him then, and still do now, to an extent.  I have always been a realist, and most of the time, I’m fairly logical and rational.  From most of our poker-built ‘ivory towers’, a whole lot of grass probably looks green.  I just am not sure that that’s enough of a reason to not search at all, though.

Maybe this is all just a misdiagnosis and my problem isn’t so much in current ‘job’ choice as much as something else altogether.  It could be a combination of any number of things, some of which I may discuss in the future.  After I suggested going back to college, my mentor and friend quickly replied with a message of caution, saying perhaps my issue wasn’t necessarily curable with college, and not to be quick to jump to conclusions, but to be steady and think through my decisions carefully.

He’s right, once again, so that’s what I’m doing.  I’ve found it therapeutic to write about things, so after 5 days of musing the issue over, I felt it was an interesting enough issue to put on the proverbial page and see if I found any answers in doing so.  I’m not sure I will find an answer, and maybe there is no single answer.  I’m not sure, but thankfully I am mostly satisfied with my life, so I have some time to try to figure it out.  It’s important to me, though, in the post-Thanksgiving spirit, to show appreciation for someone I have rarely thanked in the past.  I am grateful for having such a good person, a true friend and wise mentor, in my life, particularly one capable of reading my (what I thought was) inner conflict well enough to spark and inspire a deep internal debate that was long overdue.   It will be thanks to him that my life may actually change for the better and help me find inner peace and that ever elusive right path.

10 Responses to “the right path”

  • December 2, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    brian said:

    I don’t want to comment on your life or dreams or future or anything, just that there seems to be a glaring hole in this post as it relates to women and finding love, my dad has had a pretty crazy awesome life (he’s a musician in a popular blues band, was a safety harness tester that involved jumping off buildings to test them and is a race driver and instructor) and he said it all pales in comparison to who you’re doing all the things in your life with. It sounds horribly cliche and girly but I think there’s alot to it.

  • December 2, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    JCarver said:

    I actually am pretty sure that’s not a root cause in my case, but could see why you’d think so.

  • December 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    nachos said:

    Your thoughts are pretty common for someone in their early 20s and most of us have either gone or are going through this now. I think the explanation for the “emptiness” is that you just need some more time to find a true calling in your life. Going back to school is a very good place to start. After all, have you ever seen someone truly dedicated to a certain purpose in life ever bragging about how they can sleep until 6pm? I can understand where he is coming from and why he might be disappointed in that statement because you clearly have the talent to do a lot of good things besides sleeping in and playing video games. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you obviously are motivated to do much more in life.

  • December 2, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    SubPar said:

    When you are successful at what you do, you will rarely feel a sense of peace and completeness – constant success breeds confidence and a desire for more success, especially for competitive people. I think you will find that this is the case no matter which thing it is that you are good at, or how noble it is. The same thing that makes you review your sessions, even when you play well and finish with a profit, will drive you to examine your life and your goals, even when you are nominally happy with your current path.

    Nachos is right that a lot of people feel like this in their early 20s. I know I did, and I went out and found a fantastic job at a nonprofit that I’m absolutely in love with. I’ve made great friendships and done work that helps people, and even been compensated well. And I still can’t wait to find out what’s next.

    I think your friend set you thinking about this in just the right way, and it’s great for you that your income from Poker will allow you the opportunity to do whatever it is that you grow into. Anyway, this was an interesting post, for sure.

  • December 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    John said:

    I think this is a great and very honest post. I to have found myself in a similar situation. I am a 22 year stock and options trader, have been since I was 18. In the past four years I have brought in an absurd amount of cash for anyone, let alone some who should just be getting out of college. Until about a year ago I too had that same feeling, almost like I had found a way to cheat the system. I sat around all day in front of five computer monitors raking in money. What I came to realize was that you will never have a fulfilling life sitting in a room clicking a mouse, even if its what you love doing. Clicking raise or fold; or buy and sell all day no matter the income is just a recipe for emptiness. Some of the monster traders I have been fortunate to meet have all gave me the same advice; take the money and do something you love. Charities, starting a company, travel the world, start a family……ect. Those are what fill up the soul so to speak. Me personally, I am in the process of opening a commercial recording studio in Raleigh, which will be up and running in the next month or so. Music has been my passion since I was 8, so this is a great fit. I will be moving my office from home to the studio and subsidizing income for the studio through the market. Since starting to look for a place last October, over a year ago I have finally found that elusive balance to life. Also schedule schedule SCHEDULE!!!!!! Waking up at the same time every day and going to “work” around the same time helps wonders. I hope that some a this rushed rambling makes any sense at all, keep up the great posting.

  • December 2, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    StefanProdan said:

    John —

    I live in Chapel Hill and have been wanting to get in to stock trading, specifically day trading, for some time now. I’ve read a bunch of books but would love the opportunity to talk with someone that’s actually done it successfully. If you happen to check this, and you wouldn’t mind sharing some of how you got to be successful at trading with me, please send me an e-mail at davis@bowen.com.

  • December 3, 2008 at 12:26 am

    evang` said:


    prodan always trying to find a new way to make enough money to spread his slum kingdom roots

  • December 3, 2008 at 8:36 am

    anurag dikshit said:

    you complain a lot

  • December 3, 2008 at 8:43 am

    JCarver said:

    :doom: BROWN PEOPLE !! :doom:

  • March 5, 2009 at 8:17 am

    not a problem » Blog Archive » seeking the three corners said:

    [...] only recently had this pointed out to me, by my friend/mentor that I mentioned awhile ago, in that same conversation, in fact.  He’s right about this, as well.  I was obsessed by so many things over the [...]

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