He had mate in two. I had mate in three, so the game was basically over. I played it out anyway.
I pushed his queen back with a pawn. What the hell. I took the initiative for a moment and delayed the inevitable. He moved his queen. I pushed his remaining rook back with another pawn. He moved the rook. I made another “threatening move”, which would have meant something if my opponent didn’t have mate in two.
Somehow, he lost focus and made a stupid move. He reacted instead of finishing me off. He always beat me, but not this time. I had him in three.
That’s how I figured it out. We—all of us—are reaction engines. We’re surrounded by people, things, history, ideas. We respond. That what we do, nearly every minute of our lives. It’s how we’re built. But in the chess game that day, I gave up and just did what I wanted. I didn’t care about the outcome anymore. I refused to react. And it worked.
Winning turned out to be a bad move. I became enamored of my victory. I thought of nothing but how to win again.
Tuesday, I had a job interview. He asked me about my qualifications. I shrugged off the question.
“My qualifications don’t matter,” I said breezily. “The real question is how you’re going to grow profits selling a mid-level products when your market—middle class consumers—is vanishing. You need to grab the growing low end or the extreme high end. Would you like to know how to do that?”
The interviewer was stunned but I got the job. I’m gonna quit in a few days. That was just practice.
I got my mortgage reduced. Without going into the details, I talked with the top official at the bank branch and convinced her to use some, let us say, non-standard criteria.
The upshot is this: I got in the habit of setting aside whatever the orthodox approach to, well, anything is and substituting my own. If the other party doesn’t play the game my way, I take the ball and go home.
That’s how I came to start alt.world, the international grassroots movement coordinating the development of new institutions better than the crap we’ve been stuck with all these years. Find us on the Internet.