Somewhere a cricket sings off key.
I was once a much better writer. I wrote letters and journal entries, short stories, and essays, music reviews, and complaint letters, I even wrote letters for Amnesty International on behalf of families of people who had disappeared courtesy of governments. I dreamed of writing a book.
In high school, prompted by seeing a person throw a cigarette butt into a natural spring near my home, I went into a bit of a rage and started yelling at that person. "Do you realize what you are doing? Did you know that cigarette butts take roughly 80 years to decompose? Why would you do that?" I queried.
They thought I was completely bonkers. I went home, cooled down, and wrote about it. That essay turned into a college essay for New College, to which I was quickly accepted. I was proud of that essay, but not so proud of my behavior to the littering stranger by the spring.
My mother has always been a very passionate person. She realized at times though, that she too needed to cool down. To do this, she would play the piano. She had Beethoven’s entire Moonlight Sonata memorized and she would sit down and play and it became clear that we were not to interrupt her. Live music was always given preference over pre-recorded entertainment.
A lot of what made my writing better, back in the day, I think was my level of self-reflection, sitting in trees above the river, or canoeing silently on the river, even just sitting on the back porch, day dreaming. These quiet times, helped build my imagination and feed my soul. I’m working on a way to return to this on a daily basis. One great speech that I found on TED by Amber Case has been very helpful to me as an inspiration. Perhaps it will be to you too.
Here's mom and me in one of the trees over the river:
Chess is a game that often becomes passionate! We get involved in the moves, the cleverness, the calculation, hoping the opponent doesn’t see the attack. And sometimes we need a way to not take this passion out on someone else when it turns sour. Indeed, finding a way to cool down that doesn’t involve hurting someone else, with word or deeds is super important.
This is still a challenge for me. So I really do understand if you get upset at your opponent. But still, it’s not an excuse to be abusive to them. There is no excuse for that.
I promised to start showing up on Chess.com, not just for work, but into the community. Sometimes this is hard because we have a lot of work to do, but we are here, and we recognize you as people too. If you are struggling, hang in there and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
If you are successful, help other succeed! Let’s be better friends to each other!