On the Glide Path to Nirvana
At a somewhat advanced age for such youthful pursuits, you’re playing your first-ever organized chess tournament. You’ve entered the Los Angeles Open, along with about 400 other brilliant nerds, many of them teenagers and younger. In fact, every generation is well-represented here. There are players as young as 5 and as old as 90. Indeed, you’re escorting your 86-year-old father-in-law into the playing hall, a giant ballroom that can be entered through a single door.
As you’re ushering Dad in, a man — imagine him any color or age or tax bracket, wearing logo golf apparel — elbows you aside, shouting, “Jesus! You’re standing in the doorway!” The force of his forearm shove nearly sends you into your frail Dad.
For approximately half-a-second — and in the future you’d like to get this down to a smaller fraction — you’re prepared to kill this man with your bare hands. Then you get on the glide path to Nirvana. You tell yourself:
-4: No, I’m not going to resort to violence, I’ll just correct his rudeness verbally.
-3: I’m going to admonish his inappropriate behavior, but I’ll be considerate of others and not do it here in the doorway, where many players are trying to come and go. I’ll wait until he’s at his table.
-2: You see him at his table, but he’s in the middle of a game, and his clock is running. You decide to wait to lecture him when he’s done playing.
-1: Instead of lecture him, when he’s done playing you’re going to introduce him to Dad, saying, “I wanted you to meet the eighty-six-year-old chess player you almost ran over on your way in.” That’s all. Leave it at that.
0 (back to Baseline): Nah. You’re not going to confront him.
+1: You’re not troubled by the encounter at the door. You understand what happened and, maybe more important, what’s happening now. Right now.
+2: You’re delighted to have had an opportunity to see your practice manifesting itself.
+3: All is right with the world, flaws and all.
+4: Nothing matters, except loving every living creature, including yourself and rude men throwing elbows.