The Invisible Game

A long time ago, when I was starting to learn how to play Go, a much stronger and better player than myself would play me a tutoring match every Wednesday. Slowly, but surely, I learned to improve my game. I learned how to read moves ahead. Learned how to plan. How to grow my game into a strong one.

But before I learned to grow, I stumbled across the board sloppily. I had no idea what I was doing. Or rather, I had an idea of what I wanted to do; I wanted to win, but I had no idea how to achieve victory. Every time I’d try to plan a set of moves, he’d play a strong white stone to completely block my path. Every single time. It wouldn’t matter what the plan was. Somehow. Some way. His response, his next move, was always going to be at the exact point I wanted to make mine. I was baffled. I didn’t understand how or why he could know this.

Later I learned the obvious. I learned he made this move because he knew I wanted to make that one. That was the easiest way for him to stop me. And it wasn’t because he was being mean or anything, it was simply because that was the best response there was to my move. It was, simply, because I had noticed a possibility of moves the game could have taken, and forced them ahead. But what I failed to see was that it was the second move that was the important one in gaining the advantage in the exchange.

When I realized this, I quickly learned how to read moves ahead: simply imagine what I’d play next, and the move after, and the one after that. Then later I’d learn to read several different possibilities ahead. Then after that I learned the gravity of each move as I learned to count the score. But it was that moment where I learned to not just see my own moves that I really started to grow.

Sometimes I still think about how blind I was to his moves before. It was as if somehow I blinded myself into forgetting that he made moves during his turn too. That only my stones could actually make a change in the game, and that everything would halt if I wouldn’t place one.

Much like I was blind to the moves outside of my own and he wasn’t, I think people in general are blind about the movements of others unless they’ve made the effort to open themselves up enough. If you’ve worked hard to change, better, improve yourself, then chances are you’ll have less problems understanding the every day struggles of the people around you. If you’ve broken free from your own moves, and taken the effort to see what the other person would do, how they’d see things in their situation, you’ve opened yourself up to a broader view of things.

But if you haven’t, then you’ll be blind to them until you do. And many, many people are blind. Worse yet, they don’t even know they’re blind. They’ll live inside their small bubbles, completely dumbfounded and offended by anything from the outside. They’ll ridicule people for every difference they spot, and believe everyone to agree with their views on things because, to them, there are no other views.

When someone plays a stone in their way, expecting them to play along, they’re not equipped with any way of finding a solution. Any way to play along. Most of them don’t even see the stone. Some don’t even see the board.

Don’t play in their way. Leave them to their own devices. Maybe one day they’ll see the playing field. But until then, you’re only attempting to play a game with them on a board that’s invisible to them.

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