Column: The Spiritual Realist
Question? Is that achievable? Yes. But except for only the briefest spell if both our objective and subjective realities tell us there is a problem we have not dealt with. When we are in a bad relationship. When our business, life, is falling apart. And we are busy running away from our problems.
The Illusive One Point
Chess is a game that is played one move at a time. A game played in the moment. It requires technical understanding of the game. It requires understanding of strategy and tactics. It also requires understanding of the limitations and expansiveness of the board and its pieces. And so, it requires judgement. All these things are learned over time, but there is more.
Allow me to use my son, Mark, as an example. At the age of 12 he came close to being the State champion for all age categories (including the senior team). He was the front-runner after the first day, but crashed in the second.
For the first year he was the state's under-12 champ and 33rd nationally. Last year, he was 15th nationally. This year, he came 14th with still another National championship in May.
Note: It has been said that Mark is especially talented. I think he is talented but then there are so many who are talented in their own way. What I have seen in my years on the chess circuit is many talented kids (some maybe even more so than Mark) who have crashed. Perhaps Mark's unique advantage is his growing ability to face his fears, and a healthy perception of his self-worth apart from chess. I hope I played a small part in that. I also hope that you will remember your own uniqueness as you read this - and just put yourself in his place. Yes, you.This has been my observation as Mark's coach He has consistently been a half point away from crossing the top 10, and a point away from being in the top 4 to represent the country. In all our post-mortems after the tournaments, we see a game he lost or drew not from a lack in technical knowledge. Usually, the loss is attributable to a glitch in thinking, a loss in concentration, impatience, over-confidence, lack of confidence, etc.
So in search of this illusive one point, we began to focus on cultivating his patience, concentration, etc. And we discovered that to develop these virtues, the underlying factor was always FEAR and its counterpart, EGO.
Fear causes him to be impatient; fear shuts down his ability to apply all the lessons he derived from his training; fear shuts down his concentration, causing him to drop the ball It is not easy to remember everything you know. There is tension in holding all that knowledge, and the skill to do so is slowly developed. The key to doing so lies in the management of fear, understanding its genesis. Fear causes internal stress and, coupled with the external stresses of competition, it creates a breakdown. Since external stresses are to a large extent beyond our control, the emphasis of training is on dealing with the internal stresses. The stresses caused by our imagination, our negative self talk.
My point is this: It is a PROCESS A process in learning, of distinguishing real from imagined fears. Chess is a game played in the moment. That moment can only be understood and appreciated when we experience and understand ALL that the moment brings. All relevant factors, and not ones in our imaginings. The test is in reality, the test is in results.
So from tournament to tournament, the understanding of that moment deepens, changes. It cannot be done if we run away from our fears. And so the universe opens up, and we begin to see things as they are, as they are meant to be. Hence, Mark's understanding of the moment - as he makes his first move, as he prepares his mind - is now different.
My point is also this: The universe opens up when you DO. As Master Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." Take any one thing in your life and strive to be the best that you can be in it. Don't worry about others, don't worry about not being better than any other. Just be the best that YOU can be... and that is enough.
Do this, and the universe will open for you. Learn gratitude, patience, discipline, thinking skills, etc. All that will be available to you if you do this one thing. And success breeds success.
Do not do the "geographical", giving up halfway and then "trying" something else. Apply yourself to that one thing and you will succeed. Then try something else. The laws of attraction. It's never too late to DO.
of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult. ”
~ Sigmund Freud ~
We are still chasing that one point... but in the journey, a whole universe has opened up for us. How different my own perception of that one point has changed from when I first attempted coaching in chess. It seemed so simple at first.
It has also deepened my appreciation of the rose, its deep struggle to retain its beauty in the trials of nature.
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