On Doing the Work
15 hours ago
This is the former location of the blog of the Andrew Wood Acting Studio in Los Angeles.. The blog is now located at http://www.andrewwoodla.com/blog. This old location has been left in place as an archive.
But there were problems. After the movie came out I couldn't go to a tournament without being surrounded by fans asking for autographs. Instead of focusing on chess positions, I was pulled into an image of myself as a celebrity. Since childhood I had treasured the sublime study of chess, the swim through ever deepening layers of complexity. I could spend hours at a chessboard and stand up from the experience on fire with insight about chess, basketball, the ocean, psychology, love, art. The game was exhilarating and spiritually calming. It centered me. Chess was my friend. Then, suddenly, the came became alien and disquieting.
My game began to unravel. I began to think about how I looked thinking instead of losing myself in thought. The Grandmasters, my elders, were ignored and scowled at me. Some treated me like a pariah. I had won eight national championships, and had more fans, public support and recognition than I could dream of, but none of this was helping my search for excellence, let alone for happiness.
At a young age, I came to know that there is something profoundly hollow about the nature of fame. I had spent my life devoted to artistic growth and was used to the sweaty-palmed contentment one gets after many hours of intense reflection. This peaceful feeling had nothing to do with external adulation, and I yearned for a return to that innocent, fertile time. I missed just being a student of the game, but there was no escaping the spotlight. I found myself dreading chess, miserable before leaving for tournaments. I played without inspiration and was invited to appear on television shows. I smiled.
This type of learning experience was familiar to me from chess. My whole life I had studied trechniques, principles, and theory until they were integrated into the unconscious. From the outside T'ai-Chi and chess couldn't be more different, but they began to converge in my mind. I started to translate my chess ideas into T'ai-Chi language, as if the two arts were linked by an essential connecting ground. Every day I noticed more and more similarities, until I began to feel as if I were studying chess when I was studying T'ai-Chi. Once I was giving a forty board simultaneous chess exhibition in Memphis and I realized halfway through that I had been playing all the games as Tai-Chi. I wasn't calculating with chess notation or thinking about open variations...I was feeling flow, filling space left behind, riding waves like I do at sea or in martial arts. This was wild! I was winning chess games without playing chess
A lifetime of competition has not cooled my ardor to win, but I have grown to love the study and training above all else.