It’s been a hell of a Magic year for me. At this moment its safe to say i’ve solidified myself into playing again after coming back from a decade-long hiatus. Looking back at 2014, I can see clearly the pieces of my game I found and picked up to improve, as well as identified some old pieces i’ve had to slough off to facilitate my development as a player.

To me, accomplishments in life are a direct result of self-actualization. What I mean is, a deep understanding of the self is a concept on which I place a high value. Veiling my relationship to Magic as a microcosm of my life, this year overflowed with personal victories and profound failures. The grandest victory is two-fold: the first being my increased success at the Grand Prix level. Making day two at New Jersey was a pleasure I had not expected and will certainly look to repeat next year. The second is writing to you, my dear readers, the great and wonderful Magic community I have had the pleasure to meet and learn from this past year. I could not have met all of you by any other way, and to be welcomed so warmly has been my greatest gift of the year.

In my first article for Hipsters, now well over six months ago, I stated that playing Magic again has engendered a better person in me. This is more true now than it was back then. In order to improve this year, i’ve had to confront aspects of my personality that strained and prohibited my thoughts and emotions. Being one’s own worst enemy is the killer for any good Magic players long-term ability to succeed. And since advice is informed nostalgia, I will happily stress to you – consider how it is you can beat yourself before sitting down and shuffling up for a tournament, and what can be done to mitigate these… lets call them bad habits. For me, at least, I discovered that my bad habit originated within myself, deeply rooted prior to anything remotely Magic related. I had to confront who I was as a human in order to make progress with the game, and as it turns out, my life.

That information might be deemed a bit heavy for some of you, but thats the meat it for me.

The other, and far more sunlit area of growth has been meeting the community of players I have the wonderful privilege of calling my friends. Learning from this community through hours of games and conversations, through dinners or drinks, laughter, and that ineffable bond that germinates along the united plane we share that is this beautiful game that brings us each joy. The relationships I have cultivated this past year are the very reason I am here, with all my successes and failures, the very reason I cherish what I have grown.

I write to you that 2015 is a year already afloat with projections. Beginning a small eternal cube of 360 cards, booking six months of Grand Prix weekends, and patiently amassing Legacy staples is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It may sound like a lot, and some days it does to me, for sure. But its not work, and it never will be. So long as I have all of you in my life, then supporting each other, demanding that we continue pushing farther and farther forward, for ourselves and for our friends… why, where does the sky even begin?

Thank you, and see you all in 2015.

-Derek Gallen

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