Playing the Game with Your 7 of Hearts

Have you ever been dealt a hand of cards and thought to yourself, “How am I going to make this work?” In the game of life, we all have been dealt a hand that can take us down a difficult path, but what we may not realize is that each card has its own unique trick. Everyone has a secret talent that they possess—it might be a witty personality, artistic ability, athletic stamina, or a way of connecting with individuals on a deeper level. Anything can be a gift, but some might not share it for fear of losing it or being ridiculed about it. We all have been dealt a certain hand, but sometimes we hide that “special card” or fold before we let the hand play itself out. It’s then that we miss out on the opportunity to play the game of life to its fullest possibilities.
Hannah (center) with conference colleagues.
I recently traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, to take part in the Agriculture Future of America Leadership Conference. At this conference we heard from some amazing speakers that inspired, informed, and engaged with us about various topics concerning our future in agriculture—but also our own personal life. There were many positive and inspiring messages shared with us throughout the four-day conference, but it was the last speaker that spoke to my heart—thus making me want to share that message with the rest of you.
Now there are two things in life that fascinate me. The first is Laffy Taffy jokes and the other is magic. It doesn’t matter how simple the trick is—I just love the thrill of believing in something unknown, kind of like Santa. Now the last speaker at the conference was just that—a magician who is not Santa. His name is Jon Petz and as much as his magic fascinated me, his message did too.
A little background on his story: Jon is a magician in the Indianapolis area, and one day he got a call. He was told that there was a child named Nathan whose wish was to see David Copperfield. Nathan was fascinated with magic and wanted to see it first hand. When Jon was called upon, he was hesitant at first to come. Jon said he was no David Copperfield and didn’t know if he could compare to Nathan’s expectations of magic. But Jon went to visit Nathan anyway.
When he got there he was touched by what he saw—first he noticed a priest, then Nathan’s parents and siblings, and then behind them in a hospital room was a child hooked up to many machines that guided his breathing. It was then that Jon realized his purpose. As Jon entered the room, Nathan’s eyes lit up when he was told Jon was a magician. Jon performed a variety of tricks, and at the end he wanted Nathan to perform the last two tricks himself.
It was a simple card trick. Nathan pulled out a card and wrote his initials on the card to signify it was “his” card. Nathan’s card was the 7 of hearts. As the trick continued, it only took Nathan a wave of the hand and a double tap on the deck and then the 7 of hearts would appear on top. But it wasn’t till Jon shared the last trick with us that a tear rolled down my cheek. He had Nathan throw the deck of cards up to the ceiling. And as the cards came falling down, there was one that wasn’t among them—the 7 of hearts was stuck on the ceiling.
I swear you could hear a pin drop at this conference. Jon continued on with the story, sharing that six months later he randomly ran into the priest that was with the family that day. It was then he learned that Nathan had passed on the next day after being visited by Jon. The priest also shared that in Nathan’s casket the family placed a 7 of hearts card—it symbolized that last happy moment they all shared as a family.
That story has touched my heart in more ways than one. There have been so many times where I had the opportunity to share my 7 of hearts with others, but I decided not to in the end. One thing that I realized in Jon’s speech was that it not only affects me but also the people I decided not to share it with. If Jon decided that his talent wasn’t comparable to David Copperfield, he never would have met Nathan and never would have had a lasting impact on Nathan’s family.
It’s a risk we take to be seen for who we truly are—but by not taking the risk, we take the chance of missing out on new opportunities and experiences that can have a lasting impact on our own lives and the chance to grow as an individual. I’ve been told that in life we have to play the cards we are dealt. But if we take the chance to play our 7 of hearts, it is then that we can change the way we as individuals view the game in the end. Life’s too short to wait on when to play the right card. We could miss the opportunity to experience life at its fullest possibilities. Don’t wait—take the chance, and experience the love and the thrill of playing your 7 of hearts. For it’s not what you’re dealt, but how you play the game in the end that truly matters.
by Hannah Pagel (Iowa State Univ. student and CAST student admin. asst.)

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