Animus is an imagination-kindling realm of wonder
Lo! How the ‘mighty’ have fallen!There once was a time, in the dim, distant past, when full of youthful exuberance and unmarred by cynicism born of adulthood, I was a local chess prodigy. I could formulate strategies fifteen, twenty moves ahead, I played games against myself (in my head—without a board and pieces)…
Loss on its own is irrelevant. I have never minded losing at chess, as experience is, indeed, the best teacher. What I do mind, however, is being blind. Not seeing when the end is neigh (regardless of whose ‘head lies on the chopping block’). Numerous times of late, I’ve made the move I deemed best and was as gobsmacked as my cybernetic opponent when the move resulted in a checkmate of the latter. Of course, I already knew that my opponent was beaten a few moves ago, however, I failed to recognize the killing blow, as I swung to deliver it. The wins where I failed to realize that I was vanquishing my foe, I tend to strike from my ‘record’, as I deem myself unworthy of them. It would have been more educational to lose than win in this happy-go-lucky fashion.
I never read books, watched movies or memorized formulae for the game. I learned to play intuitively by practicing a lot with my grandfather. However, immeasurably more valuable than the games, were the post-game discussions and analysis, i.e. I was made to think: “why did I lose this time?” Thus, at my peak I could adapt to most opponents judging them on their personality and style rather than merely the pieces on the board. The difference between then and now? Focus. I no longer live and breathe chess, I’ve lost that vital connection with the game that allowed me to effortlessly see. My ‘myopic squint’ would have Clint Eastwood giggling like a ticklish prom queen. I am not just out of practice, I am out of touch. Getting back into the game takes more than just mechanical practice. Though practice makes perfect, they say, I believe that if you are just going through the motions, you may as well be tossing peas at a brick wall hoping that the hundred thousandth pea or the millionth pea will finally break through (who knows, the hundred millionth pea just might wear through the wall, as water would. I’ve never tried. Do let me know if you decide to make history by putting this theory to the test). Just as writing great pieces takes more than hammering words out on a keyboard—writing 3000 words per day will NOT make one a great writer (unless one ranks typing speed, immaculate spelling and grammar above all things). Quantity is NOT interchangeable with quality and talent can’t be taught. Inspiration can’t be coerced. We can create a typing robot, but we can’t teach or programme it to create. It is far wiser to meditate and distil one’s thoughts before putting the proverbial pen to paper. Better write three worthwhile sentences in a month than spew bucket-loads of mediocre drivel day by day by day.
[Love the grinning knights in the image btw. Someone really wanted to intimidate the other side!]
Just like analysing several scenarios some 30 moves ahead in chess, before moving a single piece. As I have explained at length in the past, financial success and public acclaim are inaccurate attributes to judge an artist’s worth. I may be a writer, but first and foremost—I am a thinker.
Oh, woe is me! I’ve lost at chess.
To an opponent with no eyes.
To a machine I must confess.
Devoid of passion, ire and pride.
Although I did my best, no less,
My foe was foxier and strong.
I will return, hunt down success,
Then see that I’ve had it all along.