Updated: Nov 12, 2020
The QUEEN is the most powerful piece in the game of chess and able to move any number of squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally. What does this have to do with life? EVERYTHING!
I recently finished Netflix's The Queens Gambit. I was blown away not just by the show's fantastically filmed style, the attention to the details, the time period, and the astonishing acting - I was impressed and inspired by one woman's resilience. Based on Walter Tevis's 1983 novel of the same name this miniseries is a fictional tale that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), during her quest to become the world's greatest chess player while struggling with emotional issues and drug and alcohol dependency. The Queen's Gambit is full of lessons within an entertaining miniseries that is brilliantly crafted.
From a young age the main character is faced with so much turmoil. After witnessing the death of her mother, she is placed in an all-girl's orphanage where she receives her first chess lessons from the custodian of the orphanage. Life in the orphanage is difficult as Beth
struggles with her own emotions and growth. A few years later she is adopted but things are not all sunshine and roses.
Beth enrolls herself in a chess tournament with no prior experience in tournaments and with the help of her adopted mother begins to travel the world as a chess prodigy. She continues to win games and with that she becomes more dependent on drugs and alcohol. The struggle to become her true self, grow, and rise above her demons is the real story.
So what does this have to do with life, self-help, and all that jazz??? Like I said - EVERYTHING.
A simple 'must watch' show on Netflix had me not just watching a program for enjoyment but I found myself downloading a chess game to play on my iPhone. I never learned how to play chess. Board games or things of this nature were never really a thing in my household growing up. Yet, I found myself in the midst of playing something I knew nothing really about so why not learn.
Here I am at 37 years young learning new things. This can be applied to life. This IS what life should be full of: learning. It is so vital for us to keep learning and always be open to new experiences and challenges.
Young Beth loses her first chess match yet she wants to learn how she was beaten and how she can improve. THAT is the whole story arc with The Queen's Gambit - Beth's ability to always be willing to learn more. There is immense struggle and she has so many reasons to give up with many different events in her life.
Sometimes life hands you little lessons that can be applied to so much. Simple everyday occurrences that can impact us. Words we cling to, experiences we relive.
For me there was a profound moment in my childhood that I often reflect on. It happened more than 20 years ago. My parents would take my sister and I skiing through our grade school growing up. Yes, I feel so blessed having these experiences and learning a sport on the cheaper side of things with a group but that isn't what this is about. One time when waiting in line for our rental equipment my father was filling out the proper forms. This form was important information with height, weight, etc... so that the proper settings could be set on the rentals. Skis have DIN settings which needs to be adjusted with skill level. The DIN is the release force setting of a ski binding. It is the value that determines the amount of force effect needed for a binding to release on impact in order to keep the skier from being injured.
See you just learned something about skis. #alwaysbelearning
My father had listed me as a beginner. I had been skiing several years at this point, was a tween with a little tweeny type 'tude, and wanted to check 'EXPERT'! As he was fitting me properly into my boot I was arguing with him that he should have checked the expert box - I knew what I was doing. I remember clear as day him looking up from closing and locking the buckles on my boot and saying these words:
We are never experts. We are always learning.
I listened as he went on to explain that it was my first time out that day, that season, and that in life we are always beginners. "When we go through life thinking we know it all we miss out on the things we do not know - which is no way to go through life." He continued on speaking of skiing, that I was still very much learning. It being the first time out that season I had not skied for several months he was trying to protect me. If I were to fall he wanted my skies to pop off really easily so that my ankles did not break or more injuries did not occur. The more advance the skier, the more aggressively you ski so you need the proper setting. It would be silly for a child who maybe skied a handful of time per year to mark 'Expert' because if I were to fall or approach skiing with that mindset, I would have surely broken something. Not only that I would have went through life without this much needed lesson.
Talk about an emotional Checkmate!
Back to The Queen's Gambit and it tying in with how we should 'play the game of life'. Through the miniseries, the main character keeps learning more and more about chess and even more about life. It inspired me to not only purchase an iPhone game app, but also a book on learning how to play chess and a chess set as well. The book I purchased is written for children because I love approaching learning sometimes from a child's perspective. It is usually more forgiving and often more fun!
“Chess is the struggle against the error.” – Johannes Zukertort
I find myself wanting to learn new things often and doing more IN life because of those words my father said that day skiing. Even though I hated hearing NO I much more appreciated all the YESES it gave me later in life. This year alone I have picked up playing the ukulele and trying to practice every day even just for a few minutes. Also with the 2020 election in the United States I realized there was a lot I did not know about how the U.S. government works, how voting works, and about the candidates' stances and what they mean. I dove into learning little things each day about politics rather than saying 'I wasn't taught it in school' and going on with my life. I have been so blessed with all life has given me - the good and the bad. I look back on the bad, when I thought I couldn't get out and I was given the short end of the stick. Now I see that it was not that bad at all and what I could have been learning instead of complaining.
Now more than ever we are given tools at our fingertips to learn whatever we want to learn! With those tools 'comes great responsibility' in which I mean that so much is out there and we have to do our research to see what is fact. The internet is a lot of good but a lot of bad and misinformation. We must keep playing the game, moving our pieces throughout the board, but not be afraid to blunder and learn from those mistakes. We have the power at anytime to start a new game, a new approach, but learn from our previous games. One of the first things everyone learns playing chess is that the queen is the strongest piece on the board.
So be a Queen and keep learning! Always be learning.
... and if you are looking for something on Netflix's check out The Queen's Gambit.
... and enjoy this brilliant blog from Our Mindful Life -"20 The Queen’s Gambit Quotes That Are Real Life Lessons"