Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Childhood Memories: Something I learned the long way

When I was in school, I was not particularly sporty - running around in the sun, getting all sweaty and gross didn't really interest me. Unfortunately, we were all required to some sort of after school activity, presumably to keep us off the streets and away from drugs and alcohol,etc. (Stay in school, guys.)

Anyway, as it happened when I was about ten or so, I decided that I would try my hand at playing chess. It seemed easy enough and I got to sit in an air conditioned room for about an hour with my friends. Sweet deal, I thought. After a few weeks - due to the giant nerd that I was - I decided that I quite liked chess and I asked my parents to buy me my own board, which they did. Maybe they also thought chess would keep me away from drugs and alcohol, who knows.

One afternoon, my dad came home early from work and I challenged him to a game of chess. (I'm  incredibly competitive, I should really see someone about it.) My dad obliged, boasting of his amazing chess skills at the same time. During the first 3 minutes of the game, I played a move that my father declared illegal. I was just as stubborn as I was competitive so I stuck to my guns. It was a legitimate chess move, I had learnt it in school. We fought for a while and my father, every bit as stubborn as me, wouldn't back down. This all culminated in me throwing the pieces back in the box and stomping off to my room in tears.

After that, I never played chess again. I reluctantly changed my after school activity to netball and that was that. The chess set was buried at the back of a cupboard, never to be seen again.

Until a few weeks ago, I hardly thought about chess again and the game was relegated to that dark domain of  my memory where I put other such horrible memories. Then one day, my boyfriend challenged me to a game of chess. (He's also incredibly competitive, we should both probably be seeing someone about it.)
I didn't really want to, but I went along with it. We played for a while, I concentrated the hardest I've ever in my life. Suddenly he played the same move that I did when I was a kid. I stared at the board for a moment hardly believing my eyes. I KNEW IT WAS A LEGITIMATE MOVE.

Even though it was a decade later, it still made me feel pretty happy to know that I was right. :)

I carried on playing, spurred on by my excitement. Perhaps I knew how to play chess after all. I tried to remember all the things I had learnt so long ago. My boyfriend was down to his last few pieces, I played one last move and there it was. Check mate. I had won. I had WON. I HAD won. I WON! :D I screeched in excitement and did a little happy dance. 

That night I lay in bed thinking about all the things I had given up on because one person told me that I couldn't do it or that I was doing it wrong. And there were a lot of things. It was a strange feeling - a little bit of regret and a little bit of hope. A silly thing like chess had proved two things to me:

1. That adults are not always right just by virtue of being adults. (BUT there is the possibility that my dad thought he was being funny by challenging me - which totally sounds like something he would do - and then got me all riled up for the fun of it - which also sounds like something he would do.)

2. There is no reason to ever give up on something you really want, there's nothing you can't do if you really try and if you're doing it wrong now, it isn't so hard to learn how to do it right.

And there it was, something I had learned the long way: a lesson in perseverance.

This is the last semester of my undergrad degree and it seems quite an appropriate post to start with. :) Have a lovely week everyone!


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