• Jean Linville

Squirrels, Chess & 20/20


First I must let you in a on few things. Yes, I am working within the new blog format, but I am still on the upslope of the learning curve, so I hope you will bear with me as I fumble my way through it all. Over the next few weeks I hope to refine the "new"blog and "find" several of the blog entries that seem to have gotten lost in the transition. Ugh! Obviously, this will be an ongoing goal for me in this new year, one of many.

Ever since the movie Up first came out, several of my friends and I have joked whenever one of us acts like Dug, the easily distracted talking dog in the movie, by quoting Dug himself by saying "squirrel!" But, most recently while out on a walk, when I shouted out "squirrel", it was because I was distracted by an actual squirrel and the rock that the squirrel had just lept from. On the rock were dozens of eaten acorns, arranged in such a way as to resemble a discarded game of checkers or chess. Maybe it was this scene, tucked into a corner of my brain, that prompted an interesting discussion with a friend while we were taking a walk New Year's Eve morning.

As we negotiated curves and oncoming cars our conversation moved from discussing sunlight and birds to a whether or not either of us had made a New Year's resolution. I have always struggled with the concept of selecting just one resolution as I seem to always have multiple goals that I am working on at any given time. And then out of nowhere, "Squirrel!", I thought of the game of chess. I suggested that each of us try and think of a "resolution" for each piece of our own "chess sets". It made perfect sense to me; multiple goals to work on and yet care and strategy would need to be employed. Thought would have to be given to which goals would be deemed the most powerful or desired as well as how to protect them. Other "players" such as our spouses, other friends, community service and so on would all impact the success of our individual "games". But there would be one big difference with this chess game. The ultimate goal would not be to "win" but rather to develop the best strategy that would allow everyone to move their goals forward. Just as I would not want someone else's "chess piece" take out one of my chess pieces, so too I did not wish for one of my goals take away someone else's. I loved the idea! It seemed a much more realistic endeavor than putting on blinders and picking one singular resolution. Once I headed home, I began my New Year's "chess piece" list. I numbered a paper one to sixteen, one line for each chess piece and then started writing, but when I reached number six my pen stopped. After my pen hung in the air for several seconds, I discovered that I really didn't have anything else that felt important enough to warrant a place on my "chessboard". Hmmmm, then I realized there are only six DIFFERENT types of pieces: king(1), queen(1), rooks(2), bishops(2), knights(2) and pawns(8), and that if I followed this structure I could actually have some goals that had multiple aspects. So, a resolution like "experiment with music" could be the "knights", one of which could be drumming and the other could be taking ukulele lessons. Woo Hoo! What is incredible to me about this whole experience is that I DON'T actually play chess! But, thanks to squirrels, my own squirrelly brain and a great friend I now have a clear vision forward for the New Year. Happy 20/20 everyone (pun intended).


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