Art imitates life. We all know this, especially if you are creative in any way. You’ll experience something, be it a cascading waterfall silhouetted by a sunset or two dogs chasing a ball and their owner’s attention, and you’ll be inspired to take action. Maybe you sketch an image or write a poem or construct a story. However you do it, the process is the same: experience something, get inspired, create something.
The same is true in reverse. Life imitates art. You see a painting, watch a movie, read a poem and something clicks. You get a fresh new perspective. Maybe you get inspired enough to take action, to do things different, or maybe you just sit back and think new, deeper thoughts. In either case, the very way you see reality has changed. Shift your perceptions and what you perceive shifts as well.
I find this interesting, as I’m a chess player. Chess is a game, but it has artistic qualities. Moreover, it’s a thinking game. It’s a direct portal into your own mind. If art imitates life, then chess definitely imitates life as well.
Here’s a question for you: let’s say you are at school and have a test coming up. You study for a few hours, you do everything you are supposed to do and you wind up with 85%, comfortably in the A range. How do you feel?
I suppose there’s many possibilities, but I see two in particular. First, the positive reaction. Most people would be thrilled with an A. That’s honour roll material. You could get a 20 on the next test and still have a passing grade. Heck, it’s almost impossible to fail now, assuming you at least pretend to try. That 85 likely put you in the top percentile. You are one of the top performers. An 85 is a great mark.
If you are a non-chess player, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. People spend hours staring at a board, intermittently moving around small wooden pieces. There’s little talking, little movement, just a lot of staring and thinking … and smoking. For some reason, a lot of chess players smoke their brains out. My grandfather, the man who taught me chess, seemingly could not play without a cigarette between his fingers. It also made him look rather formidable, what with the constant stream of smoke blowing from his nose.
The legendary Mikhail Tal also smoked non-stop.
If you’ve never played chess, everything I’m about to say will seem strange. Nonetheless, I will try to illustrate the magic of chess, of how it ensnares an unfortunately few and refuses to let them go. Many people play chess, often just as a fun pasttime, but a select few become well and truly obsessed. Continue reading →
Two students leave a classroom, each with identical marks on a test. One student is absolutely thrilled he got a 75. That’s the best mark he’s gotten all year. He did a little bit of studying, not too much and not too little, and it all came together. He’ll post that on his fridge for the next few months, the solid B circled with a bright happy face.
Or a D-minus. That works too. And yes, sadly, this is the best image I could find for Bart’s D-minus. Internet, you failed me!
The other student leaves despondent, depressed, barely able to make eye contact with anyone. A 75?! That’s terrible, the worst grade all year, pulling the GPA down. Tears might even fall from her face. She so wanted to do well, but here she is, only a B. She crumples the test up and throws it into the garbage so she never has to look at it again.
The same situation, two completely different reactions. The question now is, which are you? Continue reading →